Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

January 2002


Published in 2002 Nebraska Swine Report, compiled by Duane Reese, Extension Swine Specialist, Department of Animal Science, University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Published by Cooperative Extension Division, Agricultural Research Division, and Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


Ractopamine is a feed additive that improves feed efficiency, daily gain, and carcass merit in finishing pigs. An economic feasibility analysis on the feeding of 4.5 and 9.0 g/ton ractopamine to finishing pigs fed a 1% lysine, corn-soybean meal diet for an average of 29 days before slaughter was conducted. The analysis was performed in two stages: 1) an economic benefit for ractopamine was calculated from revenues due to improved feed efficiency, daily gain and carcass yield (dressing percent), and 2) the amount of a carcass lean premium needed per pig to recover the added cost of feeding ractopamine was calculated for each dietary level of ractopamine. One pound of Paylean™, containing 9 grams of ractopamine per pound, cost $28 and live slaughter pig prices were $34, $42, and $50/cwt. In 10/12 of our evaluations, the cost of feeding ractopamine cannot be justified economically through improved feed efficiency, daily gain, and carcass yield alone (corn =$2.00/bu; soybean meal = $200/ton). A producer would need to earn carcass lean premiums ranging from $0.23 to $1.78/pig in order to recover the cost of feeding ractopamine. However, we projected a potential profit of $0.55 and $1.50/pig from feeding 9 g/ton ractopamine when live slaughter price was $42 and $50/cwt, respectively, and when ractopamine-fed pigs were allowed to reach a heavier body weight at slaughter. We conclude that a consistent carcass lean premium is necessary sometimes to justify feeding ractopamine economically and that it can improve profitability of pork production.