Update on the Economics of Feeding Ractopamine (PayleanTM) to Finishing Pigs

2002 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Swine Report. 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, cornsoybean 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 PayleanTM, 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.