For some time, high energy finishing feeds (typically 9.8 MJ NE/kg for feeds from 65kg for example) have been cost effective, although this varies with the mill production constraints and the raw material book and availability at the time the feeds were formulated.

However, in recent months raw material cost differentials have changed, in particular the barley:wheat differential has increased as has the cost of fats whilst wheatfeed prices have decreased dramatically. The result is tending to make slightly lower energy feeds more cost effective in some cases.

The table below shows typical raw material costs for January and energy costs/MJ NE. Raw material costs, particularly for wheatfeed, are very variable depending upon local supply and in some regions, it is trading below barley.

On a pure energy basis, the table shows that barley is the cheapest energy source but, of course, when feeds are formulated the value of a commodity isn’t just a reflection of the energy costs; amino acid levels also pay a major part.

Raw material

Net energy

(MJ NE/kg)

Jan £/t

£/MJ NE

Barley

9.66

122

12.6

Wheat

10.6

139

13.1

Wheatfeed

7.62

124

16.3

Fat blend

29.2

665

22.8

Soya oil

32.9

760

23.1

Rape

6.5

175

26.9

Suns 36

5.8

200

34.5

Soya 47

8.44

316

37.4

The following table gives example formulations for a particular diet based on the costs at various energy levels noted above. Not surprisingly barley inclusion is on the maximum inclusion rate (determined by the mill for acceptable pellet quality) in most cases.

As the energy of the feed increases, wheatfeed and sunflower are the first casualties. At higher energy levels, soya then replaces rapeseed meal, wheat replaces barley, and eventually fat levels increase.

Net Energy (MJ NE/kg)

9.3

9.5

9.7

9.9

10

10.1

Raw material (%)

           

Wheat

31.3

36.8

41.5

43.78

50x

50

Barley

35x

35x

35x

34.8

29.3

30.5

Wheatfeed

10.3

4.4

       

Soya extr

2.5

2.7

3.9

7.3

7.8

9.75

Rape ext

10x

10x

10x

10x

8.8

5.4

Suns ext

7x

7x

5.6

     

Fat

1.5

1.59

1.65

1.67

1.7

1.84

X denotes maximum formulation limit

Obviously higher energy feeds have a higher raw material cost but feed conversion responds linearly to net energy and in this example, feed cost/kg LWG is minimised in the range of 9.7-10.0 MJ NE/kg.

Obviously higher energy feeds have a higher raw material cost but feed conversion responds linearly to net energy and in this example, feed cost/kg LWG is minimised in the range of 9.7-10.0 MJ NE/kg.

Raw Material Cost (£/t)

162.09

164.1

166.37

169.42

171.2

173.93

FCR

2.79

2.75

2.70

2.65

2.63

2.61

Feed cost/kg LWG

50.8

50.6

50.3

50.3

50.3

50.6

In most cases formulations for quarter 1/2 have shown optimum net margin/pig in the range of 9.4-9.7 MJ NE/kg, which is lower than in the above example. For most producers, we have reduced energy by 0.1-0.2MJ NE/kg saving typically £2.50-£5.00/t with FCR deteriorating by up to 0.05.

Higher energy feeds are also lower in fibre, and thus killing out-percentage is improved, and there is a marginal increase in growth rate and backfat P2 as energy intake is higher. Pellet quality falls with increasing barley whilst gut health may improve.