Jeff DeMint With tight profit margins, it’s more important than ever to look at the little things as well as the big things, says Jeff DeMint with the Bern-Sabetha Veterinary Clinic in Sabetha, Kansas.
DeMint spoke recently at the 2013 Swine Profitability Conference in Manhattan, Kan., where he focused on five components that may improve your profit potential.
“Most producers are well-educated in feeding pigs, but because of the relative expense of feed, it also has the greatest opportunity to return the largest savings with the smallest percent change in costs,” says DeMint. “Each feed-conversion point on the graph below is worth about $0.46 per pig at an average feed cost of $350/ton.
He suggests producers consider alternative feed sources, including distillers dried grains with solubles (DDGS), wheat midds or other available feed grains. Most importantly, avoid a “do-it-yourself” approach that can cost valuable time and money. The instruction and guidance of a trained nutritionist will pay dividends in the long run, says DeMint.
Don’t forget particle size, he adds. “For every 100-in micron particle size, expect a reduction in feed efficiency of 1.3 percent, which equates to about $1.35 with today’s prices. Fine-grinding the entire diet is detrimental to performance and carcass characteristics when fed in meal form, but those factors were improved when feed was pelleted.
Pre-slaughter feed withdrawal is another management tool. Prior to close-out, put gates in front of feeders while still allowing pigs to access water. “If you shut off feed to pens or to the whole barn, you should watch out for ulcers and/or hemorrhagic bowel syndrome,” says DeMint.
2. Immunological castration
Improvest® (gonadotropin releasing factor analog – diphtheria toxoid conjugate) is a protein compound that is an FDA-approved immunological castration product that reduces boar taint/unpleasant odors. It uses the pig’s own immune system to temporarily provide the same effect as surgical castration, but much later in the pig’s life.
“It has a flexible but strict procedure, and producers should consider its use as a way to potentially lower pig mortality and castration complications, like infections and hernias, and improve feed efficiency” says DeMint.
With feed costs being a major challenge, DeMint feels the product should be considered. He cites product literature that suggests the benefits of an Improvest regime can be:
- 6-10 percent increase in feed efficiency
- 4.2 percent increase in average daily gain
- Up to 2.5 percent increase in cutout yield
- 1.6 percent decrease in mortality