WEANING is probably the most stressful period in the life of the growing pig. The impact that this operation has on its performance through to finishing can be dramatic. Apart from environment and accommodation, feed is the major input in guaranteeing success in the management of the small weaned pig. The post-weaning growing period is essential to the overall growth potential of the feeding herd. If there is a slow down in daily gain, pigs are never able to catch up on their losses, and performance and efficiency suffers.
JUST THINK about what we as humans eat, virtually everything contains between 60-80% moisture and we still drink liquids separately. Pigs have virtually the same requirements as us, so why should we treat them any differently? When we eat something similar to what a pig is given when fed dry, our breakfast cereal for example, we add a similar quantity of milk. It is considerably more difficult to eat the cereal on it’s own without the milk, that is why we add the two together.
At weaning, the stress levels of the young pig are very high, and then changing them to a dry diet adds to the problem. they have been used to a highly palatable, nutritious and extremely digestible liquid diet. Slow growth, possible health problems and inefficient production often follows. So continuing with a liquid diet will help to reduce stress, maintain growth and maintain efficiency.
A GOOD START is therefore essential to ensure future performance, and it is feed intake which governs the speed of growth rate. Liquid feeding helps the weaner cope with the trauma of weaning by coaxing it to eat a highly palatable diet. Liquid feed is more balanced and digestible and so it is gentler on the digestive system. Research has shown that dry feeding pigs has a detrimental affect on its stomach, reducing the pig’s ability to absorb the essential nutrients required for efficient growth. This reduction not only affects the rate at which the pig converts the feed but can also affect its voluntary intake levels.
Poor utilisation of feed not only suppresses the pig’s growth and possibly wellbeing but also means that the nutrients are not being utilised and pass through the gut, not only wasting money but increasing the amount of potentially harmful chemicals into the environment.
FEEDING Using either the HFS PhaseManager or FeedManager controllers, Pig-Demand (Ad-Lib with control) is recommended as the best way to feed weaners, designed to promote healthy growth rates by stimulating appetite. With liquid feed, intake is higher than a similar dry diet anyway, but this system encourages the stock to eat more. By achieving high voluntary intake the stock is able to express its true genetic potential.
OTHER BENEFITS Feeding is no longer associated with humans. The environment is therefore quieter, the stock are less stressed because there is no need for competition for feed and the atmosphere is cleaner as minimal dust is produced from the feed. The overall impression is of pigs getting on with growing quickly, quietly and efficiently.
Furthermore, since the equipment accurately measures feed and feeding data, this information is recorded to help in managing the performance of the weaner.
FUTURE BENEFITS The future for liquid feeding young pigs looks very healthy with HFS. The potential for food engineering by the use of controlled fermentation means greater ration scope which will have a beneficial affect on ration palatability and digestibility. This will provide a far healthier growing environment in the digestive system of the pig because the cultures will suppress harmful bacteria and almost eliminate the need for medication. Furthermore, this action will also make available more of the feed ingredients to digestion - this means less odorous effluent and better FCR.