The use of highly digestible feed ingredients at an early age will help to get pigs off to a good start, writes Gareth Salmond, divisional technical manager: swine at Meadow Feeds. He says this will result in the improved performance of both gilt and finisher pigs later on in life.
Understanding the digestive system and its transformation throughout the growth and development stages of the pig, is essential for providing the right nutrition.
The knowledge and research in swine nutrition continue to grow globally, and at Meadow Feeds we push ourselves to be a part of this continual growth whilst incorporating these nutritional developments into our product range.
Feed types are important
The term “well-balanced diet” is often used to describe an eating plan as human beings. For pigs it is no different. For them to reach peak performance, it is essential to meet all their nutritional requirements through a well-balanced diet.
Some of the key steps to follow in swine diet formulation are as follows:
- determine the most effective energy level for the growth period;
- determine the protein (lysine) and energy ratio for the growth period;
- determine the amino acid ratio’s according to lysine;
- set the mineral, vitamin, and salt levels;
- set the remaining nutrient and feed additive requirements; and
- set the raw material ingredient inclusions according to the growth period.
A pig’s nutrient requirement changes according to its growth, development, feed intake and physiological state. For this reason, making use of phase feeding is important.
Why phase feeding?
Phase feeding in simple terms means changing an animal’s diet according to their age, weight, or physiological state. It is designed to assist a farmer in achieving the most out of their feed, in the most cost-effective way.
Phase feeding helps to avoid under or oversupplying nutrients to pigs for extended periods of time, which can either result in reduced growth performance or wasted money.
How you feed makes a difference
Feed cost is 60% and 70% of the total cost of a pig operation and is therefore one of the most important contributors to the success of the operation. Ensuring the correct feed allocation is important because inaccurate diets or incorrect feeding levels decreases feed efficiencies and increases costs.
After the correct feed allocation has been determined, feeder space and the stocking density of pigs should be the next areas of attention.
These are all steps which a qualified technical advisor from Meadow Feeds can assist with.
To evaluate whether your feeder design, space, and management there-of is correct, some signs to consider include the amount of pig fighting, pan coverage of the feeder and physical feed wastage. Research shows that pelleted as opposed to mash fed feeds, increases the amount of available nutrients to the animal, creates less dust and feed wastage and promotes better feed conversion.
Using the correct particle size is another important aspect of pig feed and will ensure optimum feed digestibility. Consistent feed supply and planning are also extremely important as pigs are sensitive to feed disruptions.
Running out of feed for lengthy periods of time can result in reduced growth rates, reduced feed digestibility, increased stress, health disruptions and increased aggression. These same aspects also apply to water disruptions.
Gilts and sows are not finisher pigs
Gilt and sow genetics is always changing and increased attention to their feeding programmes are essential to achieve their higher genetic potential. Gilts and sows are not finisher pigs and should be fed differently to those pigs fed for slaughter.
Gilts and sows are fed for longevity and productivity, to be able to produce several litters of pigs over a long period of time; whilst finisher pigs are fed to reach slaughter weight in the shortest time possible.
The key to a good gilt and sow feeding programme is to monitor and control their body weight, body condition and age, whilst maintaining a healthy digestive system. And the key to a good slaughter pig feeding programme is to ensure that the correct nutrient and ingredient allocation is continuously met for a high, efficient, and cost-effective growth rate.
The use of highly digestible feed ingredients at an early age will assist to get pigs off to a good start in life, something which will result in the improved performance of both gilt and finisher pigs later on in life.
It is clear that swine performance is multi-faceted. To get the best results from your feeding programme, the following should be considered: Genetic suppliers, housing and environment, management level, water quality and herd health.
- For more information on the feeding recommendations of the Meadow Feeds diets, and the nearest technical advisor to your area, simply click here.
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