Optimize Dietary Energy in Grow-Finish Pigs

Defining the optimum energy level for grow-finish pigs is an important decision. ( National Pork Board )

The swine nutrition teams at Kansas State University (KSU) and Pig Improvement Company (PIC) have developed a tool to optimize the level of dietary net energy for growing-finishing pigs to maximize profitability. Feed represents approximately 70-80% of the cost of a grow-finishing pig and about half of that cost is related to energy. It's estimated that feeding the incorrect energy level can result in a loss of about $5.00 per market hog.

KSU and PIC have developed a Microsoft Excel-based model to compare levels of dietary net energy defined by the user, and determine the level that would maximize profitability. The model can be tailored to each producer’s production parameters: For example if a production system markets pigs on a fixed time or fixed weight basis.

The model calculates the effects of energy on average daily gain and feed efficiency. It also takes into account the impact of neutral detergent fiber on carcass yield. The model predicts the optimum levels of dietary net energy that yield the highest income over total cost per pig on a live or carcass basis.

“This tool has been designed to turn complex science into practical recommendations for pig producers and helps them maximize profitability,” says Jose Soto, a KSU PhD candidate.

Márcio Gonçalves, nutritionist with PIC adds: “I believe that defining the optimum energy level is the most important decision a nutritionist needs to make. This tool takes into account how energy influences performance and how fiber impacts carcass yield and therefore provides valuable support to inform the decision.”

The model can be used to predict levels of dietary net energy that yield the highest economic benefit in various dynamic scenarios. It can be downloaded at www.ksuswine.org.