Over the past year, there has been a marked rise in feed costs. With feed costs representing around 62 per cent of the total cost of production (based on Alberta Pork’s 2020 Cost of Production study results), ‘business as usual’ is likely not the best way to look at things.
Changes to diets, revisions to herd management practices, revising feed management options, cutting the reproductive herd, or even temporarily shutting the barn doors may have been some of the options that producers have considered so far. Another option that could be considered is altering the targeted marketing weight.
Find below some discussion related to possible implications when making changes to the target marketing weights within the grids to maximize feed savings, while minimizing bonus structure losses. This approach could be a win-win for the producer and packer. It is always a good idea to have that conversation with your packer first, to make sure you are working together.
Combatting high feed costs the traditional way
As the price of feed rises, producers are feeling the pinch, especially if they locked in hog prices months ago that did not take into consideration the higher feed costs seen today.
Many producers are searching to find cheaper alternatives to keep their costs in check. The extent of benefits to altering your diet in an environment of high feed costs largely depends on your ability to switch to less-costly feed alternatives without compromising feed intake or drastically changing nutrient requirements.
This is the time to have a conversation with your nutritionist to consider your options. In addition, producers can review their feed management and herd management strategies to explore the potential for even more feed cost savings.
Could shipping earlier save on feed?
As more days are added to the finisher stage, average daily gain decreases. You, the producer, must decide whether feeding the finisher hog longer to achieve incrementally less lean gain is economically sound. This is where the feed cost and hog value determine the direction to take. What happens if hogs are shipped a week earlier than normal? How much feed could be saved versus the dollars potentially lost in hog value?
Alberta Pork’s estimates indicate that if a producer targets 128 kg live weight or around 102 kg dressed, it would take approximately 121 days to feed a hog a total of 319 kg of feed. Targeting an earlier marketing date of about a week could result in the marketing of a 121 kg live weight or 97 kg carcass hog and would result in feed savings of 26 kg per hog.
Relationship between target weight and feed consumption
Technically, it is possible to save on feed if there is a slight adjustment to shipping dates, but are the feed cost savings enough to noticeably lower your cost of production and offset any loss in revenue?
For more information on the data shown here, please contact Bijon Brown, Production Economist, Alberta Pork by email at email@example.com or by phone at 780-440-8460, toll-free at 1-877-247-PORK (7675).
If you have any further questions about this article, please contact Darcy Fitzgerald, Executive Director, Alberta Pork by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 780-491-3529, toll-free at 1-877-247-PORK (7675).