10 May 2002

…ANDSTOPPINGINTAKECRASHIS VITALTOO

PREVENTING an intake crash in weaned pigs is vital to ensure growth rates and lean tissue growth are maintained, writes SCA Nutritions Mike Varley.

Feed intake immediately after weaning shows a collapse in most pig herds. Usually there is negligible intake for 24 hours after weaning, then pigs may only eat 50-100g/day over the next two days.

An effective creep feed programme can prepare piglets for life after weaning because of the dry feed intake and it can also increase piglet weights, providing a buffer over the weaning period.

But piglets are extremely sensitive to off flavours and poor quality ingredients, making top quality creep feed essential. Ingredients and formulations in pre and post-weaning diets must match to help reduce intake drop.

Alternatively, automatic transition feeder devices, to deliver gruels, can be put in to weaner pens for one to two weeks after weaning to provide a feed with 40% dry matter, which is close in constituency to sows milk at 23% DM.

Work carried out at SCAs Feed Evaluation Unit shows pigs on the transition feeder had feed intakes of 300g/day and daily liveweight gains of 225g. This is compared with those on pellets which had feed intakes of 225g/day and a daily gain of 125g.

Transition feeders could be a real bonus for small piglets after weaning or piglets of below average health status.

However, our evidence suggests that while normal, healthy piglets of good weaning weights will benefit from the use of transition feeders, they may get a weaning check at a later stage, when the device is removed.

To give poorer pigs a lift after weaning, the extra palatability and gut health factors included in appetisers can help. They are usually special meal formulations, which can be mixed with the main starter feed for 3-4 days after weaning. &#42