Tackling High Feed Costs in Today’s Swine Marketplace – “Liberate” Yourself

Posted: March 23, 2021 | Written By: Mark Whitney, Ph.D., Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

Increased pig prices over the last couple of months have been a pleasant occurrence to pork producers that have dealt with record low hog prices and limited marketing options less than a year ago.  In many ways, the challenges and struggles our industry dealt with last summer and fall with COVID-19, in addition to continued struggles with ASF in China, have resulted in the record prices and demand for U.S. pork today.  Unfortunately, increased feed costs have not necessarily translated these high pig prices into producer profitability.  Many feed ingredient prices are 50% – 100% higher today than just 6 months ago, including corn and soybean meal – the primarily constituents to swine diets in the Midwestern U.S.  Alternative feedstuff prices, such as DDGs, have increased similarly, and therefore provide very little in relieving increased feed costs.  Fat prices are 2X what they have traditionally been in recent years.  To state that the cost of providing energy and protein (amino acids) in diets is at an all-time high is obvious.

What can be done to minimize feed costs?  After all, 2/3 to ¾ of the cost of raising a pig is feed cost alone!  A thorough examination of your current feeding program should be done, to include the following:

  • Minimize feed wastage – examine feeders daily and adjust feeder settings to minimize feed waste while also ensuring adequate access to feed. Most feeders should be set so approximately ¼ to 1/3 of the feed pan is covered.  Feed wastage of 3.5 – 5% is common in most barns, but levels can increase to 10% or more if feeder settings are not consistently monitored.
  • Double check feeding budgets – do the feeding budgets you have on paper match what is going on in the barn? If the correct diet is not fed to the correct pig at the correct time, growth performance and feed efficiency will be negatively impacted, reducing overall economic return.
  • Are diets formulated to an “ideal” cost vs “least” cost? Diets need to be developed to meet nutrient needs of the pig while minimizing excess nutrient supplementation.  Good records and information are needed to understand feed intake and growth performance expectations, which can then be used along with other economic factors (ie other fixed and variable costs, space/time available, expected days to market and price) to determine if maximal performance vs maximal feed efficiency are best as a goal, as meeting those two goals will differ nutritionally.
  • Provide energy and protein in most economical manner. These two nutrients are the most expensive to provide in the diet.  As stated earlier, most alternative feedstuffs have also increased in price, providing minimal benefits.  However, feeding a diet higher in synthetic amino acids can provide some cost benefits.  In additional to reducing the amount of soybean meal or other expensive protein ingredients in the diet, using higher levels of amino acids also indirectly increases energy density of the complete diet.  This occurs because soybean meal, and most other protein sources, contain less energy than the corn or grain that replaces it in the diet, resulting in more energy in the diet.  When properly formulated, this results in improved feed conversion, and can thus reduce feed costs by reducing amount of feed needed/lb gain.
  • Increase the utilization of energy and protein/amino acids in the feed. Use of additives, such as enzymes, can increase the amount of energy and amino acids that are utilized in feed.  If this can be done in an economical manner and on a consistent basis, greater growth performance and/or improved feed conversion can result in reduced cost/lb gain, thus improving overall economics.  Liberate XL, an enzyme and antioxidant blend product from Form-A-Feed, is a tool that should be used in all swine diets today.

 Liberate XL is a combination of several different carbohydrases (enzymes to digest starch) and proteases (enzymes that digest proteins) that has been formulated to maximize digestion of typical corn-soybean meal and corn-soybean meal-DDGS swine diets fed in the Midwest U.S.  “Liberation” of simple and complex carbohydrates and proteins from feeds can result in reducing existing expensive fat levels in the diet or increasing energy density of the diet, resulting in improved conversion efficiency, enhanced performance, and ultimately greater economic return.  The additive is appropriate in nursery, growing-finishing pigs, and sows.  Because Liberate XL does not depend on one or two enzymes, but instead contains many enzyme sources picked specifically for Midwestern U.S. swine diets, response is much more consistent and can be relied upon to provide improvements in energy and protein utilization.

As a rule of thumb, 2 lbs. of Liberate XL can replace approximately 34 lbs. of fat in a ton of swine feed while maintaining a constant energy density, in addition to reducing protein/amino acid supplementation (i.e. SBM or DDGS).  Every 1% of fat in the diet (20 lbs./ton) can be expected to increase ADG by approximately 1%, reduce feed intake by 1%, and result in a 2% improvement in feed/gain.  Therefore, Liberate XL can be used to:

1) replace a portion of the fat in the diet

2) increase energy density of the diet similar to fat,

or 3) some combination of these two.

Using 2 lb/ton Liberate XL in complete diets during the grow-finish period, assuming current prices of $5/bu corn, $400/ton SBM, and $230/ton DDGS, provide a return over cost of greater than $2/pig marketed.  If used to replace a portion of fat at $0.35/lb in diets, returns of greater than $2.50/pig marketed can be expected.

Be sure to contact your Form-A-Feed representative today to find out more about Liberate XL, or contact us at 1-800-422-3649!  We can show you the value of Liberate XL on your farm utilizing your production numbers and ingredient prices using a cost-benefit tool.

Additionally, for new users of Liberate XL, a promotion running now until May 1st is available to receive an introductory price for this remarkable product.  Release the value of your investment in feed by liberating the nutritional value of your swine feed program today!