Expert: Pig Production Falling Far Short of Market Potential

11/9/2013 7:00 AM

ST. LOUIS — Pigs fall well short of their genetic potential in today’s production system — costing the industry millions of dollars in lost performance, according to a swine nutrition expert.

Jeffery Escobar, senior manager of swine research at Novus International, told a group of European producers visiting the company’s headquarters in St. Louis that despite various improvements in production efficiency, the industry does not capitalize on the full genetic potential of animals.

“There remains a vast gap between swine performance on a conventional farm and performance in a facility that is more aseptic and perhaps targeted toward research,” he said. “That clearly indicates that we are way below the ceiling for the genetic potential for performance of animals.”

Escobar said that if animals are removed from conventional farm facilities and placed into an ultra clean facility, optimized for air quality, water purity, feed mix, environment, manure management, and disinfection, then performance can significantly improve.

“What the gap illustrates is that there is progress we can make to achieve better performance by improving nutrition, management, environment and all other aspects that contribute to express or repress the genetic potential of animals,” he said.

Although Escobar said that growing animals in such a clean environment on a full production site may be unrealistic, producers can get closer to that goal of reaching the animals’ full genetic potential.

One way to improve that performance is to optimize animal feed, to ensure individual animals are receiving the ideal amount of nutrients.

“A key area for improvement is mineral consumption,” he said. “Minerals are very important for healthy development but used incorrectly, or without proper care, they can be almost totally ineffective. Minerals have antagonistic properties —meaning feeding too much of one can cancel the intended effects of another.”

Escobar said that by using chelated trace minerals — where the mineral — such as zinc or copper — is bonded to another molecule — such as methionine hydroxyl analogue — such antagonisms are avoided and more of the mineral’s benefits can be realized.

“Chelated trace minerals can help to improve structural health in bones, joints and tendons; aid fertility and reproduction; and enhance growth in terms of feed efficiency,” he said.

Source: Novus International Inc.

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