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Phase Feeding pays dividends for Buckle Farms

A hospitality visit to JSR’s finishing unit at Decoy Farm was to prove costly for Rick Buckle of Buckle Farms, but this was to be a calculated cost, or rephrased, a very wise investment.

JSR's Decoy finishing unit, which was opened in July 2010, features a sorter and automatic feeding system that allows farmers to feed each pig according to their nutritional package according to weight, their focus was feed efficiency, which accounts for 55-60 per cent of cost of production, with their aim being to reduce food cost for every kilo of meat produced.

Impressed with what he saw Rick invited the feeding system supplier, Collinson plc, to have a chat and discuss the system type further.

The concept of phase feeding is simple, the system allows you to implement a nutritional program according to the pigs age and weight, changing the diet as required, as quickly as possible without sacrificing growth performance, regardless of the number of diets used.

As the pig grows, changes in feed mixes can be easily made to feed the pig according to age, weight and condition to optimise feed usage and eradicate any feed wastage. The ability to mix the ingredients in any combination makes the transition from one diet to another more gradual, importantly, minimising any growth stunts. You simply apply each group to one of the pre set feed curves, which has been programmed to automatically adjust the percentage change for a smooth transition from one feed type to another.

Paul Hutton, Sales Manager at Collinson said ‘users of this type of system quickly see feed cost savings as they are targeting the right pigs with the right diet and importantly are not feeding higher cost diets unnecessarily, added to this, putting an animal on a targeted feed curve maintains a prime condition and gets them to weight quicker’

The installation at JSR is a Multifast system, weighing all ingredients into the rations for maximum accuracy, the controls also offer extensive detailed analysis tools which were important to JSR as an aide to genetic research. Multifast allows the user to feed up to 20 ingredients to different groups of pigs, each group is assigned a feed curve and when feed is called for, it is weighed and freshly mixed before being delivered to the group where the full mix is then dispensed, phase feeding ensures feed is always available as feeders are topped up on demand.

Collinson offer two phase feeding solutions, Multifast and Ration feeding; Multifast weighs and mixes the feed for optimum accuracy and offers more detailed analysis, whereas Ration Feeding, is a simpler system which prepares the portions like an assembly line whereby each ingredient is added on top of the passing portion, creating a layered effect which then mixes in transit to the feeder.

Rick liked the concept and ultimately decided on ration feeding, the system will accommodate up to 8 feed rations, which can be applied to 8 curves, with the ability to include 4 wet or dry dosing additives into the mix.

After only installing the previous feeders in 2008 and with everything working satisfactorily Rick never envisaged he would see a system which would convince such a dramatic change however ration feeding was doing just that.

After speaking to a nutritionist and crunching the figures Rick could see that the improvement in feed efficiency would; cut feed costs, improve the physical performance of his herd, reduce labour and taking all these factors into consideration, coupled with efficiency of the building the figures added up, so the decision was made to remove a relatively new system and replace it with a Collinson ration feeding system.

Rick said ‘Collinson made the transition brilliantly; their fitters were excellent, working whilst pigs were still in the building and getting the installation completed as quickly as possible.’

Initially utilising his existing dry feeders, Rick also trialled 4 of the Collinson BluHox which is a robust, durable wet/dry dispenser, there was a noticeable improvement which was attributed to the fact that water was available at the feeder to aide feed intake, and so all existing dispensers were replaced with BluHox 30 plus, nursery feeder, accommodating up to 70 piglets per unit.

Now up, running and complete, with 2100 pigs on the system, over 20 batches have been fed with ration feeding and the figures speak for themselves, DGR, daily growth rate, has increased by over 100g. Before installing the systems Rick was feeding 5 kilos of bought in ration, because of the ability to create the right mix this has now reduced to 2 kilos. ‘Not only this but phase feeding creates a better transition’ affirmed Rick, adding ‘The feed conversion rate can be difficult to calculate but taking all the changes into consideration, efficiency is improved all round, and yes, I am very pleased with my investment’