The current pandemic has created challenges for much of the agriculture industry. For pig producers, a major concern is the availability and pricing of feed ingredients. From shipping constraints to production restrictions, producers must actively watch their stream of ingredients and adjust pig diets accordingly.
Analyze Your Income Over Feed Cost
It is easy for producers to look at the cost per pound of gain of a pig, but that metric provides a less-than-accurate financial picture. It is more accurate for swine nutritionists to look at the Income Over Feed Cost (IOFC) when helping producers evaluate swine nutrition decisions.
The price of a pig feed additive should not be the sole factor when deciding to continue or discontinue its use. A producer may save a little money, but they may also lose pig performance, decreasing their revenue in excess of their savings.
By knowing their IOFC, producers can make informed decisions about feed purchases, adjusting diets to accommodate market uncertainty without sacrificing revenue.
Be Responsive to Market Changes
While the row crop markets are shooting sky-high, so is the cost of pig feed ingredients. Higher prices in the corn market are usually a good indicator that feed costs will follow. Livestock feed costs surged in 2021 and continued into the first quarter of 2022.
Based on the farrow-to-finish feed cost data below, feed costs in 2022 are expected to be 32.6% above those experienced in 2020. So far, the hog market has followed with an increase in prices. With the projection of a smaller global supply of pork in 2022, there is optimism for swine producers.
Source: University of Illinois
Communication is Key
Producers should have a good working relationship with their swine nutritionists, especially in times of uncertainty.
Consulting with a swine nutritionist will help you adapt to shortages in ingredients while keeping your pigs’ diets on track. They will know the best replacements if your normal product is unavailable, and they can also forecast what shortages may be coming down the line and help you prepare in advance.
For instance, when L-lysine was noticeably becoming harder to purchase, strategic changes in diets were implemented to increase soybean meal and lessen corn or conserve L-lysine for nursery pigs and lactating sows, depending on the producer’s inventory of dry lysine.
Producers may want to purchase less supplemental fat because of high prices. A swine nutritionist will use their expertise to help find a strategic replacement for energy.