Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

January 2001


Published in 2001 Nebraska Swine Report, compiled by Duane Reese, Associate Professor, Department of Animal Science. Prepared by the staff in Animal Science and cooperating Departments for use in Extension, Teaching and Research programs. Published by Cooperative Extension Division, Agricultural Research Division, and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
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Ractopamine, a feed additive which improves feed efficiency, daily gain and several carcass characteristics recently became available to pork producers. An economic feasibility analysis on the feeding of 4.5, 9.0, and 18.0 g/ ton ractopamine to finishing pigs fed a 16% crude protein (0.82% lysine) corn-soybean meal diet from 150 to 240 lb was conducted. The analysis was performed in two stages: 1) an economic benefit for ractopamine was calculated from cost savings due to improved feed efficiency and daily gain, and 2) the amount of carcass premium needed per pig to recover the added cost of feeding ractopamine was calculated for each dietary level of ractopamine. We assumed one pound of Paylean™, containing 9 grams of ractopamine per pound, cost $26. As expected, the economic benefit (considering improved feed efficiency and daily gain) of feeding ractopamine increases as corn and soybean meal prices increase. However, its use cannot be justified economically through improved feed efficiency and daily gain alone (corn =$2.00/bu; soybean meal = $200/ton). A producer would need to earn carcass premiums averaging $.41, $1.85, or $4.97 per pig in order to recover the cost of feeding 4.5, 9.0, and 18.0 g/ton ractopamine, respectively. From the standpoint of costs and returns and assuming carcass premium is based on 10th rib backfat, it appears easier to justify feeding 9 g/ton ractopamine compared to 4.5 or 18 g/ton, because the first 9 grams of ractopamine resulted in the biggest reduction in 10th rib backfat (.09 inches), while an additional 9 g/ton (total of 18 g/ton) reduced backfat another .04 inches only. However, if carcass premium is based on a measure of loin eye area, feeding 4.5 g/ton ractopamine may be the best choice. We conclude that a consistent carcass premium is necessary to justify feeding ractopamine economically and that producers supplement published research information on responses to feeding ractopamine with data generated on their own pigs.