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True Cost of Mortality in the Grow-Finish Barn

Grow-finish pigs in a barn

In swine production, pig mortality is increasing every year. While the cause can often be challenging to pin down, this increase is generally attributed to surges of disease pressure from PRRS, PEDv or other health issues.

As we continue to improve our production practices, it’s important to recognize the actual cost of those production losses. Every grower has mortality, but what is the actual cost?

Grow-finish pigs mortality percentile chart

Chart from MetaFarms analyzes the last 10 years of finishing closeouts, broken down into three different ranges, from the top 10% to the bottom 10%, along with the yearly average. Between 2013 and 2022, mortality in the bottom 10% increased by almost three percentage points.

Understanding the Economics of Mortality

If animals are lost in the earlier stages, the per-animal cost is less simply because they’ve eaten less feed and potentially used less medication and vaccination.

The cost of mortality is usually figured as the cost of 1% mortality per pig in the barn. For example, in current economics, a 1% mortality will cost the following per pig:

​Average Pig Weight (lbs.)

Cost per Pig







Ten years ago, the average cost for mortality was 50 cents per pig for every 1% mortality. Today, that average is closer to $1.00. With the most significant factor being feed costs.

Don’t forget your opportunity cost! In the fall of last year, manure was worth $3.25 per finishing pig and 39 cents per nursery pig. So for every pig lost, the opportunity to capture that income was also lost!

Anytime we can improve the gut health of our animals, we can decrease mortality. This is for various reasons, including the improved immune system and increased nutrient absorption. A healthier gut leads to faster, more efficient growth with better feed efficiency and decreased mortality.

Using prebiotic fiber with essential oils, a product such as Ralco’s ProsperEO™ helps drive down harmful bacteria and increase good bacteria in the gut, which has been shown to boost the immune system. A recent study using Ralco’s essential oil product showed a 1.2% decrease in mortality when using ProsperEO.

Let Ralco help you limit mortality and get more pigs to market. Talk to a Ralco representative today to discuss how you can incorporate ProsperEO into your feed program!


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