The next time a company sales repre-sentative drops by your operation or you receive mailings about a new pro-duct that a company says will solve a multitude of problems, be sure to ask questions. There are no guarantees that the product you buy will be a profitable decision, but by asking the right questions you increase the odds of making a smart choice.

Joe West, and John Bernard, Extension specialists at the University of Georgia recommend asking these eight questions about all new products you evaluate:

  • Exactly what does the product do? If the represen- tative speaks in general or flowery terms be cautious.
  • What is the mechanism or mode of action for how the product works?
  • What effect does the product have on the animal? The answer must be more specific than “the product will cause the animal to grow faster or be healthier.” You want to know specifically how the product impacts the animal.
  • What is the response and how long will it take?
  • Is there any independent research to support product claims?
  • In on-farm trials, always ask if there was a control treatment.
  • Should the product be used on all of the hogs?
  • Can you prove the product is cost-effective?

Whenever you try a new product, always measure the production response and evaluate its cost-effectiveness. West and Bernard say that new products are not a “band-aid” for poor management. To get the best response from a product you need to combine it with good management.