During the past two and a half years a project in Seges - Danish Pig Research Centre has shown that it is possible to reduce the feed consumption considerable for piglets and especially for porkers, if a persistent effort is provided.
The project did not have the purpose to invent a lot of new knowledge but to implement the things we already know is working. The participants have been integrated herds, and the project started in 50 pig productions.
Start-up of new batches
Washing, disinfection and drying of housings have gradually become a cliché, but still they have been part of the programme in many herds. However, there are still many farms where the housings are not properly dried out and heated before placing of new pigs. Often it is because the housings have been dried out at a too low temperature. Thus, the oil used for heating is more or less wasted.
Challenges with piglets
In recent years the weaning weight in a large number of herds has been declining due to a growing number of weaned pigs per litter. The increased number of weaned pigs has resulted in intensified pressure on rooting areas and valve drinkers.
Another thing is that the small pigs weighing 5-6 kg are not ready for eating dry feed like the large pigs weighing 7-8 kg are, and all in all they are not very quick to find the automatic feeders and water valves. For this reason, there has been carried out trials on several farms with intensive floor feeding and extra water supply using a long water trough.
Weighing of the weaning feed has shown that implementation of these initiatives has resulted in a significant increase in feed intake.
The small piglets demand much more from their environment and a higher temperature under the covering - by mounting extra “curtains” or increasing the indoor temperature – has been effective.
In order to increase the gain and to reduce the feed consumption among the larger piglets weighing more than 15 kg we have increased the content of protein and amino acid in their last compound up to standards. Many farms are using too gentle compounds for these pigs and thus they respond positively to the increased content of amino acids – and that without showing increased diarrhoea. However, it is too early to conclude if this also has a positive impact on the lean meat percentage in porkers.
Finally, efforts have been made to place the change in phase feeding at the very best time. The compounds containing the expensive raw materials must be used as long as the pigs require them.
The degree of grinding has been in focus at systematic sieve tests of the feed. The sieve tests show large difference in degree of grinding dependent on the water content of the grain and if the wearing parts of the grinder are new or used. The secret is to diminish the fluctuations by replacing sieves and choppers regularly.
In the same period many herds have had problems with gastric ulcer. Here the challenge has been to reduce these problems without compromising the feed consumption by using a grinding that is too coarse. Increased barley portion with up to 50% has shown to have a beneficial effect on the problem. Furthermore, it is important to be in control of viruses such as PRRS and PCV-2 in the herd.