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pigs feeding on roughage (Dietze; FAO)

Pigs and Nutrition & Feed

Adequate nutrition, which is fundamental for successful pig farming, is often the most challenging aspect in terms of the availability and cost of feed. In a commercial setting, feed accounts for 60% to 70% of production costs: efficient utilization of feed is therefore essential for economic growth.

In subsistence-driven small-scale production, which does not depend on external inputs, feed costs will be minimal because animals scavenge freely or are fed on agricultural and household waste products. In commercial production systems, on the other hand, different diets adapted to the animals’ physiological state are used to meet demands for energy and protein with a view to maximizing the animals’ genetic potential. Such “phase feeding” helps to maximize the efficiency of feed utilization, and hence contributes to the protection of natural resources and reduces nutrient losses into the environment.

To give small-scale producers in less-developed settings the chance to expand and participate in markets, the challenges to be addressed are: i) the development of adequate pig diets based on local resources; and ii) the establishment of year-round supply chains without significant loss of quality and safety.

Increasing importance is being given to integrating more agricultural waste products into the diets of monogastric animals such as pigs. Modern feed concentrates are mainly based on cereals incl. maize and soy, but the prices of these globally traded commodities tend to fluctuate, partly as a result of increasing competition with the biofuels industry.