The wrong mix of raw materials in a formulation can cost you £18/tonne

29th August 2012

The wrong mix of raw materials in a formulation can cost you £18/tonne

Formulation of diets should be easy. Any formulation package contains a matrix of information on the nutrient concentration and costs of a range of available feed ingredients. This information is used to calculate the amount of each ingredient that is required to satisfy the nutrient level constraints at the lowest cost.

However this is where the problems start. There are many properties, good and bad, of ingredients that will never show in a nutrient matrix. For example, palatability effects, toxin levels, hidden growth promoting properties and anti-nutritional factors. Without knowledge of these, a diet can be formulated with the correct nutrients, e.g. protein, energy, at the “right” price but the pig may not “like” it. An eminent nutritionist once said “Any fool can use a formulation package and many do!”

That is why at Devenish we spend a lot of time and effort researching raw materials.

A series of experiments was set up looking at cereal Vs by-product diets.

Study 1:

The first experiment compared a 70% cereal/soya diet with a 30% cereal diet balanced for nutrients. The 30% cereal diet consisted of cereals, soya, soya oil and a mixture of protein and protein by product ingredients.

On the 30% cereal diet feed intake was the same as the 70% cereal diet. However growth rate fell by 3% as did FCR. Feed efficiency to carcass gain deteriorated by 6% due to the combination of poorer FCR and a difference of 1% in Kill Out.This performance difference equates to £18.10 per tonne of feed.

Study 2

In the second experiment, we compared a 40% cereal diet with a 70% cereal diet. This time we observed again a 3% drop in growth rate for the lower cereal diet but only a 1% deterioration in FCR. KO% was again 1% better on the 70% cereal diet.

This performance difference equates to £11.20 per tonne of feed.

Study 3

In a third experiment we compared 45% cereal with 56% cereal again with a mix of by-products in the lower cereal diet. This time we found no difference. However the mix of by-products was different and the cereal differentiated less. This study shows how small changes in the ingredient mix have huge effects on the performance of the pigs. No performance difference equates to £0 per tonne of feed

Formulation packages are easy to use. However the important aspect is the knowledge of ingredients/raw materials. There can be the equivalent of £18/tonne in terms of pig performance. It is important to talk to your nutritionist, review your raw materials regularly, and listen to what your pigs are telling you rather than the bottom line on the feed bill.

This work was carried out in conjunction with AFBI, John Thompson & Sons Ltd, DARD & Queens University, Belfast.

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