Despite predictions of record-high market hog prices in 2011, swine producers will be challenged once again to achieve profits in their operations because of increasing feed ingredient costs.

Rommel Sulabo, University of Illinois postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Animal Sciences, shared five ways producers can reduce costs and increase profits at the Illinois Pork Expo in Peoria.

"Feed costs make up 70 percent of a producer's cost to produce market hogs," said Sulabo, a member of Hans H. Stein's swine nutrition laboratory. "As feed ingredient costs rise, it's become even more critical for producers to take a closer look at non-traditional feed ingredients. Fortunately, there are a number of options available for reducing diet costs by changing ingredients and formulating new diets."

Incorporate DDGS into diets

Although the cost of distiller's dried grains with solubles (DDGS) has increased during the past six months, there are still significant savings associated with the use of DDGS in swine diets, Sulabo said.

With current prices for corn, soybean meal, and DDGS, costs of swine diets are reduced by $7 to $9 per ton for each 10 percent of DDGS that are included in the diets. In most cases, 30 percent DDGS can be included in diets fed to all categories of pigs if an average or above average quality of DDGS is used and if diets are properly balanced for all nutrients. If 30 percent DDGS is included in diets fed to sows, weanling pigs, and growing-finishing pigs, the total cost savings by using DDGS is approximately $10 per market pig produced.

Use small grains when available

If small grains are available, the price of these grains should be followed closely as they may replace all or most of the corn in diets fed to all categories of swine.