By Stewart Galloway, Hubbard Feeds Senior Swine Nutritionist
“If you want to win, do the ordinary things better than anybody else does them day in and day out.” — Coach Chuck Noll
Recently, I have seen market pig closeouts from farms that show significantly improved gains and feed conversions. What could be the reason for this? A newly discovered feed additive, or perhaps a breakthrough in formulations? While everyone is looking for the silver bullet to improve performance, the key to what makes the records from these farms standout is pretty simplistic, even ordinary. However, Coach Noll’s words remind us that doing the ordinary things extraordinarily well and doing them that way, every day, is what results in winning.
The successful farms I work with do three things well. They prepare, execute and follow up. These take daily discipline, teamwork with people internal and external to the farm, and training so that people know how, when and why to do the right things every day.
Are the facilities ready for the incoming pigs, including ventilation, temperature, sanitation, feeders and waterers? Have you done what you can to decrease stressors on the pigs? We all know they have a cumulative negative effect on performance.
From a feed standpoint, start with the appropriate nursery diets and budget for the age and weight of the pigs. Include water treatments with Acid Pak 4-Way and Vita CDE for gut integrity and a quick start. The best program starts the day of weaning and lays the foundation for good gut health and growth.
Use tools like the Hubbard Crush and DDGS Dashboard to evaluate future market conditions and make decisions about the grow-finish feed program, like DDGS inclusion rate, to maximize return over input costs.
A priority as pigs grow is to follow the feed budget. Our tendency, especially if pigs are healthy and looking well, is to cheat the feed budget to save cost in the nursery. These pigs are still young and immature and need the full feed budget designed for them. In the finisher phases, pigs often grow and convert better than we estimated and do not get to the lower cost, later diet phases, thus increasing feed cost per gain. If this happens, the finisher feed budget will need to be adjusted for best cost.
Daily feeder and water management will assure that the pigs have easy access without wasting either resource. We know that out-of-feed events have a negative impact on performance and increase the incidence of hemorrhagic bowel syndrome. We also know that most out-of-feed events are preventable. Daily observations will decrease this often-unnoticed robber of performance.
Hubbard Feed offers a Smart Choices Feed and Marketing Dashboard to help producers determine the optimal market weight based on input and market prices, to then plan for earlier marketing and more frequent sales to keep market weights at the optimum for best return.
Complete and review closeout records. There are several good closeout programs available. Hubbard also has a simple and easy-to-use spreadsheet that will provide a good basic closeout. Entry of accurate data is only the first part. Accurate and realistic evaluation of the data is the second aspect of follow-up. Use your external teammates to help identify areas that are below target and provide opportunities for improvement for the next group. After this, come revisions to diets, feed budgets and management protocols, including any new training of employees.
We want to have a silver bullet, or maybe a lot of them, to help us improve performance and profitability. As Coach Noll stated, this is not how winning is accomplished, but rather by doing the ordinary very well every day.