Pig producers intent on surviving the current pig crisis could save themselves thousands of pounds by utilising a little knowledge, according to Matthew Curtis, managing director of ACMC.
"The pig industry has been in this situation before and it is clear that they will not get much help from politicians or the big pigmeat buyers, the supermarkets. So producers are going to have to help themselves," he said.
As a vital first step he advises monitoring feed conversion (FC) in the grower and finisher stages. With feed the major cost of production this is where big savings can be made. Many producers still don't know what FC their finishing pigs are achieving, he said. But once they pinpoint this figure, they can set about improving it.
Armed with this information the producer then needs to speak to his feed company and genetics supplier so that nutrition can be accurately matched to the genetics used. This may lead to other areas such as feed wastage and environment.
With feed costing around 25p per kg, improving FC by just 0.1, from 2.5 to 2.4, could save around 2 ½ p per kg, equivalent to £2 per pig or £16,000 for a 300-sow herd selling 23 pigs per sow a year.
"Feed conversion is an absolute bench mark," says Matthew, who believes it is entirely realistic to achieve such figures - good herds are managing FCs of 2.1 to 2.2.
In many cases an 'instant' improvement can be accomplished by using higher quality semen from nominated sires with proven feed efficiency.