Shelly Tiede, Senior Swine Nutritionist
Not all feed mills are created equal. Knowing your mill’s capabilities and restrictions can help you ensure that what is in your plan is actually getting to your pigs.
Where to Start With Your Swine Nutrition Plan
We generally ask a few questions to understand your starting point.
1. What are your mill capabilities?
If your mill adds your vitamins and trace minerals (VTM) by hand to a base mix, it may be better to go to a base mix (only additions needed are corn and soybean meal) so you can have a more accurate blend for your herd. This could also lead to time and labor savings. Knowing what your mill can do makes it easier to create a diet plan that can be properly executed.
2. How many phases can it feed?
If the mill cannot deliver the minimum quantity of feed needed for each phase, what solutions—such as pellets or budget refinements —can we use to feed the herd.
For a diet to work, it has to be executable for the operation. Raising pigs today is a science, so any variation in the feed has to be considered, as moving too fast or too slow through the budget can lead to variation in pigs.
Identifying Your Needs—from Nursery to Finish
Getting pigs off to a healthy start is vital for the success of the animal. In a nursery environment, scours is often a tell-tale sign of a lack of nutrition. Overall variability across the nursery or a large number of fall behinds can also be a sign of a feeding issue.
The key is to look at overall culls or even variability in a finishing operation. While larger pigs will not see any detrimental issues from getting a bit of extra nutrition, smaller and medium-sized pigs can struggle. If they are not fed correctly and lack some of the nutritional essentials, a producer will often see tail biting or ear necrosis—a result of insufficient nutrients.
The mill’s ability to manufacture the balanced diet will be vital for feeding your pigs successfully. All the science and research in the world will not get you across the finish line if the plan cannot be put into place.