Field trial in Germany puts dEB optimization to the test

Field trial in Germany puts dEB optimization to the test

Just over 2 years ago we started a trial that put dEB optimization to the test. We did so in close cooperation with the Landwirtschaftskammer in Nordrhein Westfalen (Chamber of Agriculture for a district in Germany). Four swine companies were asked to join a field trial and the results were so good that the Landwirtschaftskammer had them published in renowned German magazine Wochenblatt.

Want to know more about how dEB management works and how it can improve the sow production cycle? Read about it here>>

Want to know more about how to analyze your feed and establish an optimal difference in dEB between gestation and lactation feed? You can find a quick set of practical guidelines here>>

The trial set-up
At the start of the trial the lactation and gestation feeds were analyzed for dEB (see table). The optimal difference should be 50-100 mEq/kg in favor of gestation feed. The test results actually showed a difference in favor of lactation feed.

The gestation feeds were optimized by adding 5 kg ProPhorce™ AC 299 (sodium formate) on top of the diet. The trial took place during a period of two years. At the end we compared data of both years: the first year without dEB optimization to the second year with dEB optimization.


dEB without optimization
dEB with optimization
  Lactation feed
 Gestation feed* Difference
Lactation feed
Gestation feed**  Difference
Farm average 114
 72 -42
dEB-values per feed are the average of 12 analyses carried out by the LUFA (Official laboratory of the several “Landwirtschaftskammern”).
* No use of feed additive
** 0,5% addition of feed additive (0,1% equals about 15 mEq/kg)

Improvements across the board

The most important parameters checked were piglet survivability parameters, such as the number of piglets born alive, the number of piglets weaned per sow and the mortality in the first seven days. The results are shown in below table:

  Farm average 
dEB optimization   No Yes
Sows (#) 842 825
Piglets born alive (per litter)  13.64 14.20
Weaned piglets (per litter)  11.24 11.72
Mortality in suckling piglets (%)  16.55 16.37
Increased number of weaned piglets (per litter)    +0.48
Increased number of weaned piglets per sow per year*    +1.13

All participating companies increased the number of weaned piglets per sow per year. This can be partly explained by an increased number of piglets born alive, but also by more weaned piglets per litter.

Doing the math: profitability
In this trial the investment in ProPhorce™ AC 299 to optimize dEB of gestation feed was roughly one Euro per 100 kg of feed.
The average sow consumes roughly 750 kg of gestation feed. Therefore the cost of using ProPhorce™ AC 299 is €7.50 per sow per year.

The increased number of weaned piglets per sow per year varied from 0.83 up to 2.17. At the time of the trial, the piglet selling price was €60 and net profit per piglet was €36. As such the following benefit can be calculated:

Extra weaned piglets per sow per year  Net profit per piglet*  Extra profit per sow per year  Costs of ProPhorce™ AC 299 per sow per year 
Return On Investment 
 1,13  € 36  € 40,68 € 7,50  5,4
*Selling price at that moment was €60 per piglet, after deduction of an average feeding cost per piglet of € 17 and of other costs per piglet (labor, veterinary, etc.) of € 7, a net profit of € 36 remains.

Though there were some substantial differences between farms in terms of ROI, all farms reported clearly positive figures. The return on investment varied from 1.2 to 10.4. Read more >>

A practical tool for improved sow performance
We all know that a balanced composition of the gestation and lactation feed establishes an easier transition towards the lactation period. In practice both of the feeds show about the same ratio of raw materials. This not only results in unbalanced protein, fat and fiber composition, but also in a too small or even negative difference in dietary electrolyte balance of the feeds (gestation vs lactation). This field trial has shown that optimizing dEB is a practical tool to get more out of your sows.

More information available upon request.