In the next few weeks I will be speaking at quite a few producer and contract grower meetings in the upper Midwest. At each meeting, I’ve been asked to talk about something related to production efficiencies and high feed costs.

This is really a hard topic as we all greatly improved our efficiencies in order to survive during the past 3 years. How do you get even better if you already have been doing as much as possible to get it right?

For pig owners, there still are a lot of diet decisions that will impact feed conversion and feed ingredient costs. Dr Bob Thaler from South Dakota State University showed me some data this week from a set of feed samples he collected at meetings this winter. Fully 1/3 of the samples had a particle size greater than 700 microns. This means there is still a lot of room for improvement in feed processing for many producers. It is very clear from the research data that for each 100 micron decrease in diet particle size, feed efficiency improves 1.2%.

At one time, the target diet particle size was 700 microns. Most production systems now target 600-650 microns, with some targeting as low as 550 microns. The challenge is that as we decrease particle size, the cost to grind the grain goes up and the throughput of the mill decreases. At the same time, problems with bridging increase in feed storage bins. The risk of increased ulcers used to be a major concern as we decreased particle size. With the addition of DDGS to almost all grow-finish diets, this risk is much less and I am not getting reports of ulcer problems with the decreased particle size.

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