In the current environment of high feed prices and tight margins, pork producers are seeking ways to reduce costs and increase revenue. Prairie Swine Centre, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, provides the following list of easy-to-adopt ideas, that can be incorporated into your operation immediately.

While you may have already implemented some of these techniques in your operation they can serve as a reminder of the importance of each.

Remove vitamins and trace minerals from finishing diets

  • Removal of vitamins and trace minerals from the finishing diet for periods of approximately 3 or 5 weeks prior to slaughter was found to have no negative impact on animal performance and carcass merit. The economic benefit of such a change will vary among farms, depending on the current cost of supplementation; it is estimated that a typical savings of about $1 - $1.50 per pig sold may be realized.

Adding peas to diets at 60 percent inclusion

  • Work at Prairie Swine Centre has shown a high inclusion of peas (60 percent) does not necessarily result in reduced feed intake. At current market conditions, every $10 per metric ton reduction in finishing diets will save approximately $1.20 per market hog. A bi-weekly publication (Feed Pea Benchmark) produced by Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba Pulse Growers provides a quick summary on what the price of peas needs to be in order to price into diets.

Properly adjusted water nipples and flow rates

High flow rate can result in more water spillage from nipple drinkers. Water wastage increased by 7 percent with a higher water flow rate of 1,000 ml/min compared to 500 ml/min.

Properly adjusted feeders

  • Currently, 5 percent feed wastage costs pork producers more than $2 per pig sold. While it may be impossible to eliminate feed wastage, research at Prairie Swine Centre has shown that with most commercial feeders, wastage of 3 percent or less is not an unreasonable expectation. Research has shown that having a feeder adjusted to achieve 40 percent pan coverage will have the optimal combination of reducing feed wastage while maximizing pig performance.

Energy levels in finishing diets

  • Under typical market conditions, high energy diets do not necessarily result in the highest return over feed cost. Feed efficiency is improved with higher energy diets, however additional diet costs far exceed the beneficial impact of feed efficiency. Cost savings range from $3-$5.00 per hog under current market conditions.

Power washing and sprinkling

  • Recent work at Prairie Swine Centre indicates soaking prior to pressure washing a fully-slatted production room may not be necessary. Additional labor costs associated without sprinkling are offset by lower water costs.
  • Conventional pressure washer nozzles have been shown to be the most efficient in terms of labor requirements and total water used. They have been shown to save up to 50 cents per hog marketed when compared to other nozzle types.

Feed particle size

  • Once the diet has been formulated there are still opportunities to reduce costs with feed particle size in the 650-700 micron range to ensure optimum digestibility. Frequently, due to screen wear, improper screen size or hammer wear, the feeds milled on farm are significantly over the 700-micron threshold. For every 100 microns under 700, feed conversion improves 1.2 percent.

The National Pork Board also provides tips on reducing production costs. To view those, click here.