Pork producers who don’t include nutrition and diet information as part of their whole farm plan are missing the boat. That’s the way Iowa State University animal science associate professor John Patience sees it anyway.

Patience, who came to ISU in 2008 following 21 years at Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatchewan, said it’s crucial for producers to integrate the design of their feeding program into the plan of the whole farm.
 
“For example, some producers’ goal is to maximize throughput growth rate yet minimize feed costs,” he said. “This is one time when the two objectives disagree and a major disconnect occurs. Farmers must work together with the nutritionist to make sure feeding is included in the major plan.”
 
Patience looks for solutions to economic issues facing farmers, with the goal of helping create economic success. Their specific applied swine nutrition studies target energy metabolism, alternative feed ingredient evaluation, and feeding and management of weanling and grow-finish pigs.
 
“Our current projects will take from two to seven years, with longer times possible for more complex parts,” Patience said. “We’re combining nutrition with related issues, in order to help improve long term sustainability of the pork industry.”
 
As Patience meets with producers and others in the state’s pork industry, he said there are some important “take home” messages.
 
“Producers can use alternative feeding ingredients to help minimize feed costs, because doing so offers more flexibility and more options. This can translate into more control over feed costs, especially if that product is competitively priced,” he said. “However, if a producer isn’t familiar or has no experience with a particular product, there’s the possibility of increased risk.”
 
Patience said research like his plays a major role in assisting producers because it provides quality information on new products that producers can trust.
 
“For example, even though corn and soybean meal rations dominate swine diets in Iowa, pigs can perform equally well on rations with different ingredients just as they did in the past,” he said. “Farmers just need to conquer their fear of using new products as long as the economics are favorable. Our research will help determine that.”
 
People can reach Patience by phone at (515) 294-5132 or by e-mail at jfp@iastate.edu . Or, mail to 201H Kildee Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-3150.