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Rising Cost of Pig Production

Is the rising cost of pig production having an impact on your bottom line?

As margins grow ever-tighter, producers are focused on lowering the cost of pig production. Feed costs play a significant role, but some on-farm factors can increase expenses in a less obvious way.

Causes of the increasing cost of pig production

If you find that your production costs are higher than what would be optimal for you, consider evaluating the following potential causes:

  • Pig water consumption and quality: Could the water that your pigs are drinking have a detrimental effect on their performance and productivity, thereby increasing your production costs? Water quality and consumption are directly correlated with feed intake because pigs that don’t drink enough water won’t consume enough feed. Pigs tend to drink around 10% of their body weight per day, or roughly two times the amount of feed consumed.
     
  • Feed quality and feed efficiency: Are the ingredients in your pig feed compromising growth and performance on your operation? Feed quality is vital, as it plays a significant role in intake and digestibility. With feed costs representing up to 70% of total production costs, ensuring optimum feed quality and maximum feed efficiency should be a top priority for all producers.
     
  • Sow mortality: Are your sows getting the nutrition they need for optimum health and performance? There has been an industry-wide increase in sow production, but despite this increase, many nutrient levels have stayed the same. Genetics are progressing at such a fast pace that nutrition can’t keep up, and sow feed intake patterns have changed.
     
  • Piglet quality: Are your sows producing poor-quality litters (pigs)? Modern hyper-prolific sows produce larger litters, but as litter size increases, piglet birth weight often decreases and litter variability increases.
     
  • Pre-wean mortality: Low birth weight is a major predisposing factor for increased pre-weaning mortality, and lower weaning weights often result in slower growth and lower yielding carcasses.

Tips to help reduce pig production costs

Increase pig water consumption and quality:

  • Remember to check your water lines for biofilm buildup and implement a program that monitors and maintains proper levels of these five water quality indicators:
    • Total bacterial count
    • pH
    • Hardness
    • Total dissolved solids
    • Nitrates and nitrites

Support feed quality and feed efficiency

  • Evaluate average daily feed intake and weight gains, as these can reveal poor performance in a group of pigs.
  • Re-evaluate the nutritional needs of your pigs if their average daily feed intake and weight gains are not up to par.
  • Poor performance can also indicate other problems, such as mycotoxin contamination — especially for feed refusals — or poor digestibility characteristics of the feed ingredients used.
  • Understand the factors that affect feed quality and implement a quality assurance program that will help to ensure that the best-possible nutrition is delivered to your pigs.

Reduce sow mortality

  • Focus on matching a sow’s feed intake with the level of nutrients needed for her genetic profile.
  • Deliver those essential nutrients in the most available form, so they are better absorbed and easily digestible.

Increase piglet quality

  • Remember that improving piglet quality starts with the sow.
  • Ensure that your sows are getting proper nutrition during gestation, farrowing and lactation.

Reduce pre-weaning mortality

  • Keep in mind that the piglet is entirely reliant on the sow until weaning.
  • Make sure that the sow’s nutrition program is allowing her to produce high-quality colostrum and milk so that she may transfer vital nutrients to her litter.
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