High feed efficiency among finishers - how?

Published: 2021-01-14

Feed conversion among finishers is one of the most important parameters for good production measures.

The average feed conversion in Denmark in 2019 was 2.74 FUgp/kg* growth. That covers a wide range of differences, in which the top 25% manage 2.63 FUgp/kg growth, while the 25% in the lowest end achieve 2.91 FUgp/kg growth. The best herds in the top 25% achieve feed conversions of 2.4 FUgp/kg growth.

​Several factors are at play to achieve a high feed conversion:

  • Housing conditions – feeding system, water supply, ventilation and occupation density
  • Hygiene – cleaning, disinfection, drying, water quality
  • Disease pressure
  • Feed - composition, nutrition level, the use of additives and degree of grinding

In pursuance of a low feed consumption, it’s important to identify what the limiting factor is to an improved feed consumption. Making adjustments to the nutritional content of the feed recipe is eg. of no help, if the main problem is that the feed dispensers block up!

One way of gaining a better idea of what is the limiting factor for an improved feed consumption is to use a simple concept such as the ‘minimum rule’.

Try to define what the weakest link in your production is, and then to define what you and your personnel can do to make it stronger.

If we take a look at feed, the general recommendation for a finisher with Danish genetics is that it should have 21 g of digestible lysine/kg growth. On top comes the other amino acids governed by the lysine level.

21 g lysine/kg growth goes well with the recommended norm for 30-110 kg of 7.7 g digestible lysine per FUgp, as:

21 g digestible lysine/kg growth/2.75 FUgp/kg growth = 7.64 g digestible lysine/FU.

If feed consumption is 2.7 FUgp/kg growth, and you are aiming to get down to 2.5 FUgp/kg growth, the amino acid profile must be increased to:

21 g digestible lysine/kg growth/ 2.5 FUgp/kg growth =  8.4 g digestible lysine/FU.

For calcium and phosphorous – which are the primary macro minerals in the feed, and thus a potentially limiting factor for productivity – there are also differentiated norms, depending on the feed consumption:

Source: SEGES - the Danish Pig Research Centre

If a finisher feed of grain, soya and minerals is increased from 7.7 to 8.4 g digestible lysine/FUgp, and is correspondingly increased from 2.1 g to 2.4 g digestible phosphorous/FUgp, it will cost around 0,3 Euro/100 FU.  The extra addition gives the potential to achieve a better feed conversion rate.  Only quite a small improvement is needed before the extra cost is repaid: An improvement of just 0.04 FUgp/kg growth will cover the extra cost.

Vilomix has a range of additives that can help you to improve the feed conversion. Additives are mainly used when a herd has disease problems of varying degrees, especially gut related disorders, but are also often used in herds with high feed efficiency, to achieve an even better feed conversion.

BioPro Plus and BioPro Bens are popular products in the acid range from Vilomix. Adding them costs app. 0,5 Euro/100 FU at normal dosage. If 0.5 % of BioPro Bens is added, the extra cost for the feed will be paid by a reduction in the feed consumption of just 0.06 FUgp/kg growth. 

With regard to probiotics, Bioplus® YC is an example of an often used probiotic. Probiotics colonise the small intestine with lactic acid bacteria, which give a better gut flora, essential for a low feed consumption.

The primary area of focus for Vilomix is of course advice on feed, but we also have years of experience within finisher production, enabling us to give general advice on how to achieve better productivity that extends beyond feed. 

Via our company Vilofarm we also have access to expertise within disinfection advice, which can help analyse hygiene matters within your production.

* FUgp/kg = Feed units per growing pig/kg

In certain highly productive finisher herds, we have used the probiotic Bioplus® YC while reducing the protein and amino acid profile by 5%. Adding this product has generally had a positive effect on feed conversion. 

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