Riding the Wave of Feed Cost Fluctuations

Feed costs make up 60% to 70% of production expenses, making it crucial for producers to monitor market trends as they work to enhance the profitability and sustainability of their pig farms. Recent trends indicate a notable decline in feed prices, particularly in essential ingredients like corn and soybean meal. This decline presents an opportunity for farmers to reevaluate their approach to feed cost management and capitalize on cost-saving measures.

Dr. Kiah Berg, Senior Supervisor of Nutrition for Pipestone Nutrition, manages diets for 600,000 sows. She and her team are continually monitoring feed markets and know just how important feed cost savings are for farmers. From her experience, she shares the following cost management strategies that are relevant to producers managing any number of pigs.


  •  Monitoring Commodity Price

Over the last year, the cost of many commodities has decreased; more importantly, the cost of corn and soybean meal has come down significantly. Dr. Berg shares the impact of that change with this example, in January of 2023, diets were running around $110 for a wean-to-market pig, alternatively, in January 2024 those same diets calculated out to around $81 per pig. Dr. Berg notes the trickle-down effect of corn, being if the price of corn decreases, many other commodities follow suit. Dr. Berg stresses the significance of informed decision-making and risk management in response to market dynamics, global trends, and weather patterns. Farmers should stay informed and adaptable, consulting with experts if needed to aid them in understanding the feed market in their area.


  • Optimizing Feed Formulation and Management

By staying agile and responsive to market fluctuations, farmers can adjust formulations to maximize savings without compromising herd health. Her recommendation is around once per month, ask your nutritionist to go through the exercise of running your current diet using today’s prices. Every operation is different, so working together with your nutritionist, you can determine what your threshold is for initiating reformulation. At PIPESTONE, a cost savings of around $0.30 per pig is enough to seriously consider taking action.  Dr. Berg recommends, at minimum, diets should be changed twice per year as summer finishing pigs vs. winter finishing pigs require different strategies.


  • Herd Health and Mortality Management

Producers should consider the impact of feed additives on performance and cost-effectiveness. What additives are in your diets today? Are they still providing a benefit? It is always a useful practice to review and evaluate which additives are in your diet. Another cost-saving tip is to assess herd dynamics, including mortality events, and adjust feed ordering practices accordingly to minimize wastage and optimize feed utilization.

Implementing these strategies and incorporating Dr. Kiah Berg’s insights, farmers can ride the wave of feed cost fluctuations with confidence, ensuring the health and productivity of their herds while optimizing their bottom line.


For more of this conversation with Dr. Kiah Berg, catch her on Episode #55 of the SwineTime podcast, hosted by Dr. Spencer Wayne.  

Article by Kiah Berg, PhD

 Kiah Berg grew up raising show pigs in Oregon. She fell in love with the commercial swine industry through internships and graduate school. In 2020,  following graduation from Kansas State University with her PhD in Swine Nutrition, Kiah joined the team in PIPESTONE. She currently works as the Senior Supervisor of Nutrition for Pipestone Nutrition.