Kansas State University (KSU) researchers are warning pork producers to be cautious about adding fat to the hog finishing diets.

“Over the years, we have been recommending that producers evaluate the usage of fat in finishing diets,” says Bob Goodband, KSU extension swine specialist. “Typically, with fat prices in the range of $0.14/lb., margin over feed costs or profitability will improve with additions of approximately 5% added fat up to about 200 lb. bodyweight. Adding fat improves average daily gain and feed efficiency, and the value of the extra weight gain more than offsets the increase in diet costs.”

But, he reports, that scenario doesn’t apply right now. In recent weeks, there has been a dramatic increase in fat prices to $0.30/lb. With that rise in price, the increase in diet cost is no longer offset by the extra weight gain, even in summer months when growth rate typically slows down. For farms with limited finishing space, it becomes more difficult for hogs to reach their ideal market weight, he says.

Because of the volatility of corn and fat prices over the past few weeks, KSU researchers have developed a new spreadsheet called the fat economic calculator, available on the KSU Web site: www.asi.ksu.edu/swine.

“The fat economic calculator is a spreadsheet we use to determine the economic viability of adding fat to finishing diets,” Goodband says.

For help with calculating the economics of adding fat to swine diets, he suggests contacting your county or area swine extension specialist for assistance.