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Nutrition Notes

Supplemental Chromax ® in Grow-Finish Pigs

Michael Edmonds, Ph.D., Vice President, Swine and Poultry Nutrition

Developing and evaluating products and feed programs to help producers raise pork more efficiently is an ongoing effort at the Kent Research Farm. Chromium is a trace mineral that helps with the cellular uptake of glucose, which provides energy that supports growth and immunity. In addition, this added energy can be especially helpful during the summer months during heat stress. Chromax® brand chromium tripicolinate is a scientifically researched source of organic, highly bioavailable chromium that is used with sows to help with pigs born alive and number weaned. In addition, it can help with carcass leanness.

We conducted two trials in which Chromax was added at 200 ppb (replacing 1 lb of corn) at a cost of $0.80/ton in complete feed. The first trial was conducted from June 21 to October 11, 2021, with 260 pigs with 8 replications per group. The second trial was conducted from August 27 to December 16, 2021, with 284 pigs and 8 replications per group. In both trials, we used a five-phase NexGen® program with 400 lb/ton of distillers dried grains with solubles in each diet. The data for Trial 1 is shown below:

In this trial, we observed that pigs fed diets with the added Chromax had a 1.65% increase in daily gain which resulted in a 3.7 lb. heavier market weight. With cost of gain being essentially the same, this resulted in a net return (value of gain minus feed cost of gain) advantage of $0.95/hog marketed at a live price of $60/cwt. The pigs were very lean with no carcass differences between the two groups. The data for Trial 2 is shown below:

In Trial 2, the pigs fed diets with supplemental Chromax had a decrease in daily gain of 1.3% while feed efficiency was numerically improved by 1.4%. Thus, the small improvement in feed efficiency (via a lower feed intake) from the added Chromax helped to lower the cost of gain which offset the lighter market weight. Therefore, at a live price of $60/cwt, net return was reduced by $0.16/hog marketed with the added Chromax. As observed in Trial 1, the pigs were very lean with no carcass differences between the two groups.

Pigs fed the added Chromax had a growth response with similar cost of gains, compared to control, in Trial 1 which resulted in a positive net return. In Trial 2, we saw from the added Chromax a slightly lower net return, primarily due to a lower cost of gain helping offset the lighter market weight. Previous research with chromium has shown benefits during heat stress, weather could have played a role in the present trials, however no weather data was collected.

If we combine both trials, the net return/hog marketed at a $60/cwt live price would be $0.39 from adding Chromax at 200 ppb in the diet. That in turn is a solid return on investment when the cost to use Chromax is about $0.25/hog for the entire 16 week growth finish period.

Chromax® is a registered trademark of Nutrition 21, LLC

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