Helping pork producers lower feed costs

Melanie ConsCanadian Farm News

Farmers could reduce their costs of production without impairing pig performance

By Kaitlynn Anderson
Staff Writer

Canadian pork producers may soon have a better understanding of how feeding strategies can affect pig health and performance.

Brandon Lillie and Vahab Farzan, two researchers at the University of Guelph, are working with a team of graduate students to examine “the impact of feed quality and health on pig growth performance under commercial farming conditions,” a summaryon the Ontario Pork website states.

The team based the project off the late Kees de Lange’s study at the university’s Arkell Research Station. Lange found that low-cost reduced animal protein diets do not negatively impact nursery pigs’ performance, given that the animals do not contract diseases.

Throughout the three-year study, the researchers will provide animals at eight farrow-to-finish operations with one of two feeding programs, the summary said. Each pig will receive either a conventional nursery diet or a reduced animal protein diet.

In addition to examining dietary effects, team members will collect nasal swabs, and blood and fecal samples from the animals to test for such diseases as PRRS, influenza and salmonella, the summary said. They will submit any sick pigs to the Animal Health Laboratory for diagnoses.

So far, the team has achieved results similar to those of the Lange study. The researchers also found that neither feeding program influenced carcass values and quality traits, the summary stated.

While the team has not yet completed the study, producers could save up to $2.82 per pig by reducing the complexity – and thus, cost – of their nursery diets, the researchers estimate. has reached out to Ontario Pork for further comment.