The goal of the Big Gain grow-finish nutrition program is to support optimal pig performance with minimum cost, in order to maximize profitability. We use comprehensive animal performance models, quality ingredients, accurate ingredient nutrient profiles, and economic analysis to find the combination of animal performance and ration cost that will produce the best profit.
We focus on several key areas to produce the best results:
Animal Performance and Economic Modeling
Providing the most profitable nutrition program requires and understanding of how animal performance responds to changes in diet energy, amino acid nutrition, and diet formulation. We use detailed models that account for ration cost, daily gain, feed efficiency, carcass yield and carcass weight, and days on feed available. The models allow us to tailor a nutrition program that provides the best returns under a wide range of market conditions and ingredient prices.
Our performance models can be customized for individual systems to produce the best profit in that system. A system on a shorter production cycle (for example, 24 weeks wean to finish) may require higher energy diets to maximize daily gain and market weight in the time available, while a system with more days available may be able to feed lower energy, lower cost diets and still make market weights. In either case the goal is to maximize profit given the resources and constraints of the system.
Our animals performance models are based on 18 years of research in Big Gain’s 1,000 head wean to finish research facility. This facility allows us to do replicated research trials with genetics, ingredients and facilities similar to what our customers are using. We also review other nutrition research and incorporate those results into our models. The result is a set of performance models that accurately predict how animals will respond to various nutrition strategies.
Amino Acid Nutrition
Protein and amino acids are major costs in swine production. Amino acids are the building blocks for protein, and are crucial for optimal daily gain, feed efficiency and muscle growth in modern swine with high genetic potential for lean growth. Carcass grade premiums depend on supplying the proper levels of amino acids to support lean gain. We consider a variety of amino acid sources such as soybean meal, distiller’s dried grains with soluble (DDGS), canola meal, and synthetic amino acids to supply the animal’s needs at the best cost. The use of synthetic amino acids such as lysine, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan are important in reducing cost, but the diets must be carefully formulated to insure that proper ratios of amino acids are present, and that other amino acids don’t become deficient. Using amino acids may also have performance benefits, such as improving carcass yield by reducing the amount of soybean meal needed in Paylean diets.
Energy growth is another major cost factor in swine diets. The major energy source in most swine diets, corn, has seen wide price swings in recent years. Thus it is important to continually monitor other possible energy sources like DDGS, choice white grease and wheat midds to find the most profitable energy strategy. Ingredients with lower energy may also be higher in fiber and reduce carcass yield and thus carcass weight. The economic and performance models we use always look at carcass weight, rather than live weight, for evaluating the most profitable feeding strategies. In some cases, it may be profitable to use a lower energy program that results in higher feed/gain, but the cost savings per ton result in a lower cost of gain, adequate daily gain and better profit. At other times, it may be profitable to use high-cost ingredients like choice white grease due to the additional gain and improved feed efficiency they provide.
Mineral and Vitamins
We choose our vitamin and mineral suppliers carefully to insure we provide our customers with high quality ingredients that are free from contaminants. For many of these ingredients it is possible to find slightly cheaper sources that have poor quality control. In most cases the risk of contamination with heavy metals or disease agents is not worth the minor cost savings. We also require suppliers to provide the most stable and biologically available forms of these ingredients.
Accurate Ingredient Nutrient Profiles
We continually monitor and update the nutrient profiles of major ingredients to improve the accuracy of our formulations. Corn, soybean meal, DDGS and other ingredients are sampled and analyzed for energy and digestible amino acid content.