Project Director: John F. Patience
Sixty-five thousand U.S. pork producers earn more than $16 billion annually from hog sales. Feed is their largest cost, representing 55 to 60% of the total cost of production. The U.S pork industry requires more than 42 million tons of feed at a cost of about $8.5 billion. During periods of high feed prices, for example, 2012, the total feed bill is closer to $17 billion.
The nationwide whole herd feed conversion rate (kg feed/kg pork; breeding stock included) is ~3.0:1. Each point change (e.g. 3.00 to 2.99) represents 140,000 tons of feed/yr, which is worth $56 million in 2012. Utilizing existing knowledge on improving feed efficiency is critical to the long term competitiveness of the U.S. pork industry and for improving the sustainability of food supplies.
Our long term goal for this project is to increase nutrient utilization and feed efficiency, to strengthen the competitiveness of the pork industry, and to reduce its demand on grains and proteins, through focused and integrated initiatives in both research and extension. Completion of the objectives will improve our understanding of the factors that control feed efficiency and assist in developing tools to select animals with superior feed efficiency. It is also intended that information derived from this project will be proactively shared with the pork industry through extension activities. These advances will enhance feed efficiency at the farm level and thus contribute to increased global food security and sustainability.