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Britain lags behind in feed conversion efficiency

Published on 14 August, 2013, Last updated at 09:27 GMT
 
Britain lags behind in feed conversion efficiency

Britain lags behind its continental competitors in terms of efficiency in its feed conversion, according to the latest available figures from British Pig Executive (BPEX).

Average feed conversion efficiency had deteriorated in the UK by 0.2 between 2009 and 2010 and was 0.3 behind that in Danish herds. "This is far more relevant financially than producing extra piglets," said Ed Sutcliffe, geneticist with pig-breeding company, ACMC, at a meeting of farmers at Great Dunmow, in Essex.

Britain lags behind its continental competitors in terms of efficiency in its feed conversion, according to the latest available figures from British Pig Executive (BPEX).

Average feed conversion efficiency had deteriorated in the UK by 0.2 between 2009 and 2010 and was 0.3 behind that in Danish herds. "This is far more relevant financially than producing extra piglets," said Ed Sutcliffe, geneticist with pig-breeding company, ACMC, at a meeting of farmers at Great Dunmow, in Essex.

Britain weaned just 22 pigs per sow annually in 2010, compared with 28.1 in Denmark. He calculated that in a 500-sow herd, increasing pigs sold from 20.76 to 26.24 would involve 114 fewer sows, saving £34,000 (US$52,500) in feed costs, worth £3.36 (US$5) per pig produced.

However, improving feed conversion by 0.2 in the same herd would be worth between £4.96 (US$7.70) and £10.29 (US$16) per pig, either through less feed being eaten or through faster growth, depending on how the improvement was achieved. This would be worth between £51,485 (US$79,500) and £106,810 (US$165,000) annually in the same herd without improved litter performance.

"While it would be unfair to say the industry has the wrong focus on sow productivity, it is reasonable to say that our poor feeding herd performance is what is really hurting farmers, especially given the period of high feed prices we have endured. Housing the UK feeding herd on high-welfare straw systems comes at a high price in terms of feed conversion, profitability and, ultimately, the sustainability of the industry," he said. "However, efficient genetics can help in any production system."

Britain weaned just 22 pigs per sow annually in 2010, compared with 28.1 in Denmark. He calculated that in a 500-sow herd, increasing pigs sold from 20.76 to 26.24 would involve 114 fewer sows, saving £34,000 (US$52,500) in feed costs, worth £3.36 (US$5) per pig produced.

However, improving feed conversion by 0.2 in the same herd would be worth between £4.96 (US$7.70) and £10.29 (US$16) per pig, either through less feed being eaten or through faster growth, depending on how the improvement was achieved. This would be worth between £51,485 (US$79,500) and £106,810 (US$165,000) annually in the same herd without improved litter performance.

"While it would be unfair to say the industry has the wrong focus on sow productivity, it is reasonable to say that our poor feeding herd performance is what is really hurting farmers, especially given the period of high feed prices we have endured. Housing the UK feeding herd on high-welfare straw systems comes at a high price in terms of feed conversion, profitability and, ultimately, the sustainability of the industry," he said. "However, efficient genetics can help in any production system."

 

 
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