Nutrition series By Swine it- The triad

The triad

We always talk about “improving pig performance”, right?

That is a common topic on the day-to-day of a swine industry professional or graduate student.

We often see swine nutritionists (or swine professionals in general) coming up with conclusions or recommendations without considering two key aspects of pig production: Economics and Implementation.

Enter “The triad of decision making in swine production”…

1) Biology

That is the easy one. Well… not quite.

We can break down the understanding of the biology of the pig into 3 levels:

Level 1: Did it improve performance (statistically)?

Level 2: What is the magnitude of that performance improvement, if any?, and

Level 3: How is the pigs’ response to increasing levels of the given nutrient (or any intervention)?

As an Elite Swine Nutritionist, you want to be at Level 3… you want to understand the shape of that response. Is it linear? Is it quadratic? Does it have a broken-line linear shape? Or broken-line curvilinear shape? What is the equation that defines that shape? Because you will need this equation to find the point of maximum economic return.

2) Economics

Does better feed efficiency always mean increased profitability?


To help producers be financially healthy, you have to learn how to run the economics of any given decision-making scenario.

At a high level, to calculate the economics, you will need:

  1. The performance equation.
  2. The change in cost is based on each level of the intervention.
  3. Pig price multiplied by the weight gain from the intervention.

Economics isn’t rocket since, but many people shy away from going through it. Heck, Elon Musk learned rocket science by reading a few books. We all should be able to run some solid economics.

3) Implementation

It turns out some things are easier to implement than others. For example, a strategy that needs a simple diet change is much easier to implement than something that needs to be executed in each barn (i.e., top dressing sow feeding).

So implementation has to be taken into consideration after evaluating the biological and economic changes.

There you have it… the triad of decision-making of swine nutrition.

But how about getting into the weeds and looking at the economics of feed efficiency?

In my next email, we will do that.


Marcio Golçalves.

p.s., in the next several days we will be opening enrollment soon to the first 20 people that want to participate in the next class (4th class) of members of the Elite Swine Nutritionist Program.

To join the waitlist go to