The question many producers have is when does feeding a higher priced nursery feeding program pay? The short answer is when it reduces the feed cost per cwt gain and reduces the overall cost per cwt gain in the nursery phase. A recent field study was conducted in Iowa, when the producer was challenged to feed a more complex phase 2 pelleted diet. For the field study, UltraCare® 350 complete pelleted diet was substituted for their phase 2 meal diet. The other diets and feed budgets remained the same. Compared to their current phase 2 meal diet, the UltraCare® 350 complete pelleted diet was $100 per ton more expensive. At 10 pounds per head, it was calculated that it would raise their costs by $0.50 per head.

What actually happened?


Previous 12 closeouts

UltraCare® 350 pellet trial

Number of Head



Average Days on Feed



Starting weight, lb



Ending weight, lb



Average Daily Gain, lb


                   0.92             No Diff

Feed Efficiency


                   1.33             (9.2%)

Feed cost per cwt Gain


              $30.73              ($0.96)

Health cost per Head


                $2.02              ($0.40)

Total Cost per cwt Gain


              $48.74              ($3.82)

Average Feed Cost per ton




There were no differences in performance observed in the study in average daily gain between the dietary treatments; however, the addition of the pelleted UltraCare® 350 to their feeding program reduced cost of production in feed, health and total costs. Additionally, a 9.2% reduction in feed efficiency was observed when feeding the pelleted UltraCare® 350 feeding program. Feed cost per cwt gain was reduced by $0.96 and health costs were reduced by $.40 per head. Total costs were $3.82 per cwt gain less than the previous closeouts. They observed less scours and antibiotic treatments throughout the nursery period and pigs were visually more uniform when feeding the feeding program with the pelleted UltraCare® 350.

Why did we observe the above results?

My opinion is that anything we do to improve feed efficiency (pelleted diets) benefits the animals with the lowest intakes. They are able to gain more out of what they eat. The smaller pigs fall into this category and were able to perform better. Also improving the overall health status improves the performance of the lighter pigs.

In summary, if you are looking to improve performance and reduce overall costs in your young pig feeding program; don’t always look to the cheaper diets. They may not be as effective in reducing costs as you think.   

For further information, please see your local feed sales representative at a Land O’Lakes Feed Co-op or Purina Mills Dealer.Visit us online at,,,    

Copyright © 2010 Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC.  All rights reserved. UltraCare is a registered trademark of Land O’Lakes Purina Feed LLC. Due to factors outside of Land O’Lakes Purina Feed’s control and because of market uncertainties, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to financial performance, profits, losses or otherwise, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Land O’Lakes Purina Feed