Feed conversion ratio for GB rearing herd improved in 2020

Thursday, 22 April 2021

By Bethan Wilkins

The latest figures from Agrosoft for the 12 months ended December 2020 show some improvements in the rearing herd performance, with the feed conversion ratio particularly falling. In contrast, the finishing herd performance metrics were more similar to 2019.

Rearing herd (7-35kg)

Pigs at the rearing stage gained marginally more weight per day in the 12 months to December 2020 compared to the previous year. The daily liveweight gain (DLWG) for this period averaged 487g/day, 3g more when compared to the previous period.

The feed conversion ratio (FCR) also improved at this stage, averaging at 1.71, 0.12 less than in the previous 12-month period. This means that it took 120g less feed for each 1kg of weight put on by the pig. However, this may be partially a reflection of particularly poor FCR in 2019.

Pigs spent on average 64 days within the rearing unit, 4 days more than in the previous year. The improvements in feed efficiency mitigated most of the additional days spent in the unit in terms of feed requirement. Pigs at the rearing phase only recorded a 0.1kg increase in feed consumption, which averaged at 54.0kg. 

Increased daily growth and a longer time spent on the rearing unit resulted in a 2.06kg increase in the weight at the point of transfer, which averaged 38.5kg.

Finishing herd

Pigs at the finishing stage were also very slightly more efficient in the 12 months ending December 2020. The FCR averaged at 2.67, 0.01 less than in the previous year. However, this did not translate into an improvement in daily growth. The daily liveweight gain averaged 856g/day, 4g less than in the previous year.

Across the 12 months overall, pigs spent on average the same number of days within the finishing unit as 2019 (86 days). Although pigs were finished to a heavier weight, this was gained from the rearing rather than the finishing stage. Carcase weights averaged 85.8kg in 2020, 1.6kg more than in 2019.

Feed usage at the finishing stage was also very similar to the previous year. The 12 months ending December 2020, feed consumption at the finishing stage totalled 199.8kg, just 0.2kg more than in the previous year.

Impact on costs

The improvements to FCR and DLWG at the rearing stage shaved about 1.5p/kg off production costs in 2020, compared to 2019, if all other performance metrics are kept at 2020 levels. On a per pig basis, this improved margins by about £1.30.

It is not always beneficial to margins to spend longer rearing pigs and taking them to heavier weights. However, the average figures for 2020 suggest that the heavier carcase weights led to lower production costs on a per kg basis. If the 2019 pattern of rearing/finishing weights had been followed, average costs would have been 1.2p/kg higher. On a per pig basis, this would have lowered the average margin by £1.20/pig.

Bethan Wilkins

Senior Analyst - Red Meat

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