Feeding program design | National pig breeder

The bottom left of my computer’s desktop screen shows the current outside temperature. It currently reads 97 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes, we hit the scorching days of summer.

Our average daily feed intake goes from 4.75 lbs per day from wean to finish during the fall and winter months to 4.30 lbs per day from wean to finish (a 10% decrease). Our lactation feed intake drops from 16.1 pounds per day during the fall and winter months to 14.9 pounds per day (a decrease of 8%).

Lack of planning and/or communication of feeding program design can and will result in disappointing market weights, lactation performance and reproductive rates. However, if the feeding program was implemented prior to the time the weaned pigs were fed and the intended results of the feeding program were communicated and implemented accordingly, it is not necessary to react to these hot summer days. Instead, the weaning-to-finishing feeding schedule should anticipate the strong northerly winds and first snows of December.

Planning 167 days in advance
When setting feeding programs, growth goals, space requirements, and market weight goals, it is crucial to understand the growth period scenario and market window of the pigs starting feeding. For example, a group of weaned pigs put on feed on July 1 will have the first cut the week after Thanksgiving. The last cut for this example group will be the week before Christmas. So while the current hog price is above $110 per cwt, growth rates and market weights are suppressed due to the summer heat.

Pigs weaned today will have their maximum feed intake and growth rate during the cool fall and winter months when feed intake will not be restricted. Additionally, in today’s futures market, these hogs are being traded for around $85/cwt, well below most current profitability forecasts. Therefore, while late finisher feeding programs should target intake and growth promotion to maximize return to cost, early grower and finisher feeding programs should aim for the least cost per book of gain.

React 37 days in advance
Even though the feeding program has been well thought out and planned approximately 167 days before the pig market date, there are times when the economic or logistical scenario will change. The hog industry has been no stranger to volatile market changes in both input costs and production revenues over the past four years. There are situations where the market looks positive when pigs are put on feed, but as the calendar progresses the market has not grown or has fallen back. So instead of having to produce an average market weight of 300 pounds to maximize return on cost, an average market weight of 285 pounds is now ideal.

Feeding programs, allotted feeding days, and marketing strategies must respond quickly to these changing scenarios. Responding to these changes is crucial. If the feeding program and corresponding plans are not answered in a timely manner, dollars remain on the table.

Execute 7 days in advance
A well thought out plan is just that until it is acted upon. In designing a feeding program, it is essential to have regular reformulation to take advantage of changes in ingredient prices. For example, from June 16 to June 27, the July corn futures contract fell 6.2% while the July soybean meal contract rose 3.5%. This means that if you are using formulated diets in the second week of June, you are using too much SBM and not enough corn, distillers grains with solubles and synthetic amino acids to fully achieve the lowest cost per pound of gain.

Additionally, executing at the plant, feed delivery, and slat level is crucial to ensure the feed program is executed at a high level at all stages.

Regardless of the plan or how often the diet program needs to be updated due to market fluctuations, the secret key is communication. Production, growth, feed efficiency, feed days, marketing reductions, and market weight targets should all be well-known information from the lath-level board room. It’s just as important to think about the finishing pigs today as the pigs that will be fed today and marketed this holiday season.

Source: Trey Kellner, who is solely responsible for and owns the information provided. Informa Business Media and all of its affiliates are not responsible for any content contained in this information asset.

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