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By Emily Miller
Monogastric Specialist
Grand Valley Fortifiers

At Grand Valley Fortifiers, we are continually running trials in the nursery phase to fine tune the recommendations for our feeding programs, test new products, or even try out new ingredients. When considering the different phases in a nursery feeding program, the diets will generally start more complex, with easily digestible ingredients for young piglets, which is also associated with higher cost. As the piglets get older, we can simplify the diets to reduce the cost, while still achieving good performance. We know it is important to get weaned piglets off to a great start, but perhaps there are still some efficiencies to be gained. For example, are there times in the nursery feeding program where we can successfully modify the feed budget to reduce the cost per kg of gain without sacrificing performance?

This is the type of question we wanted to answer with our BioForce product lineup. Recently, we launched two new early nursery feeds – BioForce Initiate® and BioForce Propel®. These were designed for the producer who still wants to purchase pellets (vs. making them on farm) for piglets up to 9 kg, but who is more sensitive to cost per tonne in the nursery. For customers who want to maximize nursery performance, our BioSure products, Surge and Respond, for the early nursery are still a great choice.

In a trial conducted this summer with 364 weaned pigs, we utilized the same feeds throughout the nursery from our BioForce product line but offered either our standard feed budget or a more economical one. This resulted in a slightly lower feed budget per pig in phases 2 and 3 for the Economic Program (Table 1). The trial ran for 47 days, with technical and economic performance in Table 2.

Table 1: Economic vs. Standard Feed Budget

BioForce Initiate
BioForce Propel
BioForce 180
BioForce Piget 32
1.0 kg
2.0 kg
4.0 kg
1.0 kg
1.5 kg
3.5 kg

Table 2: Overall Nursery Results

Start Weight, kg
End Weight, kg
Average Daily Gain, g
Feed Consumed/Pig, kg
Feed Conversion Ratio
Feed Cost/KG Gain, $
Margin OVer Feed Cost, $/Pig

*Margin Over Feed Cost = ($3 per kg feeder pig gain feeder pig) – feed cost. 
All Feeds were medicated with Chlor and Tiamulin

Utilizing a smaller feed budget in phases 2 and 3 with the Economic program resulted in similar overall nursery performance compared to the Standard program. Considering the entire nursery period, feed consumed per pig was slightly higher in the Economic program, but this was later in the nursery when cost per tonne of feed is lower. This led to a lower feed cost per kg of gain, and ultimately greater margin over feed cost of $2.24.

This trial is a great example of continuous evaluation of the nursery feeding programs at Grand Valley Fortifiers. Each trial gives us more insight and allows us to make improvements to our feeding programs, with the ultimate goal of improving the profitability of our customers. We do recognize that every farm is different, and conditions can even vary from batch to batch, highlighting the importance of continuous data generation and product evaluation. If you would like to learn more about running trials on your farm or sharing data with us, please reach out!

Would you like to see how a modified budget or different feeding program could impact your bottom line in the nursery? Contact your Grand Valley Fortifiers Livestock Business Consultant today!

This article was written for the Spring 2023 Swine Eastern Dairy Grist. To read the whole Swine Grist, click the button below.