Feed Strategy - January 2018 - 34
34 ❙ FeedStrategy
Feeding piglets after weaning remains a challenge for most producers,
whereas buying the best possible feed is merely the first step.
ost-weaning feed intake has always been rather
low compared to genetic potential for growth
in early-weaned pigs. This costly problem is
attributed mainly to early weaning at 3 weeks, as
opposed to natural weaning at about 8 weeks of age.
Under most commercial conditions, weaned pigs
invariably experience some degree of appetite depression. This increases production cost and reduces
growth performance through the finishing stage,
affecting profitability in a negative way. It is not uncommon for pigs to starve for as long as 3 to 5 days
after weaning, whereas others may start eating a few
minutes after placement in the nursery building.
The reasons for post-weaning anorexia are many
and complex. The general consensus is that weaned
pigs do not eat because of radical changes in their
feeding behavior, and feed form and composition after
weaning. Before weaning, the sow was responsible for
feeding piglets at frequent intervals, and communal
liquid feeding was, thus, the norm for piglets. After
weaning, the piglets are faced not only with a stressful physical and social environment, but also with the
decision of when and how much to feed themselves. To
make things worse, where water was provided before
in conjunction with solid matter in sow's milk, now
the weaned pig needs to distinguish between thirst and
hunger and also to realize that these needs must be satisfied via separate media - dry feed and water. A lowquality environment and poor health status certainly
do not help an already affected appetite.
But why is ensuring a high feed intake during the early post-weaning period so important?
Research has repeatedly demonstrated that low
feed intakes during the early post-weaning period
severely limit future growth potential, increase
temperature and management requirements, intensify morbidity and mortality, and reduce turn over
of facilities. The following generic rule may be applied to understand this issue:
For every 100 grams of extra feed intake per day
during the first week post-weaning, body weight
increases by at least 2 kilograms at the end of the
fourth week post-weaning.
This has a dramatic effect on overall performance during the growing-finishing period as pigs
that barely maintain their weaning weight during
the first week may take an extra 10 days to reach
market weight compared to pigs that grow at their
pre-weaning gain rates (about 200 grams per day)
during the same period.
www.WATTAgNet.com ❙ January 2018
1/10/2018 3:35:14 PM