To meet the needs of a population that’s set to soar to over 9 billion by 2050, 60% more food will be needed globally1. And while the industry is already striving to produce more from less, accurate livestock feeding will continue to be central to meeting increased demands in the future.

According to Chris Rackham, Premier Nutrition general manager, the key to accurate and efficient feeding is the application of knowledge and expertise that can help to boost animal performance, while minimising waste and emissions.

He explains that precision rationing is the foundation of getting more from less. “Starting with getting the right advice on raw materials will trigger efficiencies throughout the supply chain.

“Our team of nutritionists holds an extensive breadth of knowledge but are also backed by an armoury of innovative tools and valuable data sources. This includes everything from ration formulation programmes to our own bespoke raw ingredient matrix – Premier Atlas.

“This combination of years of expertise and training, teamed with the latest resources and research data, allows the team to work in collaboration with our customers to ensure their farmers maximise the performance and efficiency of their feed rations,” says Chris.

“For example, for the past two years, Michelle Sprent, one of our pig nutritionists, has been supporting our customer, Heygates with ration specifications for a new nucleus herd of pigs for Canadian genetics company – Genesus.

“Meanwhile our ruminant nutritionist, Dr Donald Lawson, has worked with a feed compounder, applying over 25 years of expertise, to increase 305-day milk yields by over 1,300kg,” he says.

Research cuts pig feed costs

Bridge House Farm, in Northamptonshire, was the first in the UK to keep two of Canadian genetics company, Genesus’ pig lines – the Yorkshire and the Duroc.

Michelle Sprent explains that the farm split pigs into pens according to their gender and breed line and had just installed a Roxell Multifast feeding system. This provided individual groups with a specific blend of diets, according to bespoke pre-determined feed curves.

“The feeding system also records exactly how much feed is supplied to each pen, allowing for regular monitoring and accurate calculations of feed intake and feed conversion ratio (FCR),” she says.

“Even with this technology in place, expertise, knowledge and data were still required to tailor the original Canadian feed specification and intake guidelines to suit a UK situation, for example in terms of ingredient availability.

“So, we worked in close collaboration with Alison Brewster, from Heygates, to apply current knowledge generated from Premier’s own research programme, that looked at performance of each sex, to set up initial feed curves,” says Michelle.

“Since the system started up in 2017, it’s been a case of collating and analysing data, working and learning together, to optimise diets and feed curves to match individual pig performance potential,” she says.

“On average, the data collected shows that the boars can grow 130 g/day quicker than the gilts, with an FCR of 2.45, which is 0.35 points better than that of the gilts, meaning less feed is required to produce each kilogram of growth.

“On our recommendation, the gilts moved to a lower specification far sooner than the boars. This is because the trials confirmed that the gilts don’t have the genetic capacity to convert feed to growth as quickly as boars, but their growth rate also starts to reduce at a lighter weight,” says Michelle.

Applying both Michelle’s and the team’s knowledge of split-sex feeding has allowed Bridge House Farm to cut down on feed costs, leading to cost savings.

Also, in line with the Government’s recent Clean Air Strategy to reduce ammonia emissions, the improved feed accuracy has led to reduced nitrogen and phosphorus excretion, as the feed is being utilised more efficiently.

Going forwards, based on the original Genusus guidelines, Premier’s nutritional expertise, Alison’s formulations and Bridge House’s data, the farm can now provide its customers with appropriate feeding recommendations when pigs are sold on.

Maximising milk yields

Over the last two years, Dr Donald Lawson, ruminant nutritionist, has worked closely with a feed compounder to consult on a range of changes that led to increasing one dairy farm’s 305-day milk yields from 7,616 kg to 8,986 kg.

“For this herd in particular, we used our extensive insight from the Premier Nutrition Transition Management System (TMS) to concentrate on fine-tuning fresh cow feeding to promote health and productivity.

“This involved using the Premier Rationing Model, which is a bespoke tool that uses the most up to date and values from our own raw ingredients matrix – Premier Atlas.”

Donald adds that using this resource ensures nutritional values are accurate and correct, for maximum efficiency and minimum waste.

“In this instance, we focused on using the tool to balance home-grown forage and compound feed, as well as looking at bypass starch and mineral levels to boost performance.

“Not only has performance improved by 18%, but the milk fat and protein yield has increased by 128 kg per cow. We now regularly monitor cow performance using TMS and milk records, and diets are adapted as needed,” says Donald.

For more information on Premier Nutrition’s independent nutritional advice service, please visit www.premiernutrition.co.uk or call 01889 572500.