Precision and stockmanship

31 January 1997




Precision and stockmanship

well rewarded

Sows are responding well to precision feeding and stockmanship on one Suffolk unit. Harry Hope reports

CONSISTENTLY high sow output is the reward for precision feeding, coupled with skilled stockmanship, on R J Clarke and Sons breeding to finish unit.

It carries 235 sows at 212ha (530 acres) Wood Farm, Badingham, with progeny taken to a 74kg deadweight finish.

Except for a purchased piglet starter ration all feeds are milled and mixed at home with guidance from a nutrition consultant. Home-grown wheat and barley supply most of the cereal ingredients.

Every effort is made to keep breeding sows in adequate body condition at all stages of the breeding cycle. Mr Clarke bases sow feeding on the Stotfold system (see below) and offering different diets for the farrowing and dry sow stages is still the preferred system.

Suckling sows are offered a 13.9 DE ration including 18% crude protein, 4.7% oil and 4.7% fibre plus balancing minerals and vitamins A,D and E. Main constituents are 35% barley, 23.5% wheat, 12.5% wheat feed with purchased ingredients including 11.25% Hyprosoya, 5.7% of a beans, peas and oilseed rape meal blend, 5% Hypromeal Gold, 2.5% Farm Fat and 2.5% Farmol (mainly molasses). The main barley and wheat ingredients are kept constant unless there are major shifts in cereal prices. Minor constituents are also adjusted accordingly.

Sows move into the farrowing house five days before they are due and at this stage are offered 2.3-2.7kg a day of the suckling ration. This is reduced to 1.35kg on the day of farrowing. Allowance is then built up gradually, depending on appetite, until a sow suckling 10 to 11 piglets is offered up to 9kg in two feeds during late lactation.

The result is a complete absence of thin sows on the Wood Farm breeding unit. There is no delay in weaned sows returning to the boar and no depression in second litter performance, caused easily by gilts losing an excessive amount of body condition while suckling their first litter.

A major bonus from correct sow nutrition is that annual culling is kept to a managed 40% plus. The policy is to cull after the seventh parity unless a sow is an exceptionally good performer.

At weaning sows are reduced to 2kg of feed and then fed to appetite over the service period, when some will scoff up to 9kg a day. They are then scaled down to 2.3-2.7kg depending on body condition till one month before farrowing, when the lactation ration is re-introduced at 3.2kg a day.

The 13.4 DE dry sow feed includes 40% barley, 38.25% wheat, 10% wheat feed, plus beans, peas and oilseed rape meal blend, Hypromeal Gold, molasses and minerals-vitamins.

A good start in life for piglets scaling 7.5kg at 24 days weaning continues throughout life and the feed conversion from weaning to slaughter averages 2.35:1 with a growth rate of 582g a day over this period. Performance at the final finishing stage is currently 692g a day with a 2.68:1 conversion rate.

Mr Clarke stresses that much credit for high performance on the unit must go to his dedicated staff. Stocking density at all stages of production is the other critical factor.

Penalties in terms of reduced health and performance can be severe and this knife-edge is easily exceeded on units taking pigs to higher finishing weights."

Sows are responding well to precision feeding and stockmanship on one Suffolk unit. Harry Hope reports

CONSISTENTLY high sow output is the reward for precision feeding, coupled with skilled stockmanship, on R J Clarke and Sons breeding to finish unit.

It carries 235 sows at 212ha (530 acres) Wood Farm, Badingham, with progeny taken to a 74kg deadweight finish.

Except for a purchased piglet starter ration all feeds are milled and mixed at home with guidance from a nutrition consultant. Home-grown wheat and barley supply most of the cereal ingredients.

Every effort is made to keep breeding sows in adequate body condition at all stages of the breeding cycle. Mr Clarke bases sow feeding on the Stotfold system (see below) and offering different diets for the farrowing and dry sow stages is still the preferred system.

Suckling sows are offered a 13.9 DE ration including 18% crude protein, 4.7% oil and 4.7% fibre plus balancing minerals and vitamins A,D and E. Main constituents are 35% barley, 23.5% wheat, 12.5% wheat feed with purchased ingredients including 11.25% Hyprosoya, 5.7% of a beans, peas and oilseed rape meal blend, 5% Hypromeal Gold, 2.5% Farm Fat and 2.5% Farmol (mainly molasses). The main barley and wheat ingredients are kept constant unless there are major shifts in cereal prices. Minor constituents are also adjusted accordingly.

Sows move into the farrowing house five days before they are due and at this stage are offered 2.3-2.7kg a day of the suckling ration. This is reduced to 1.35kg on the day of farrowing. Allowance is then built up gradually, depending on appetite, until a sow suckling 10 to 11 piglets is offered up to 9kg in two feeds during late lactation.

The result is a complete absence of thin sows on the Wood Farm breeding unit. There is no delay in weaned sows returning to the boar and no depression in second litter performance, caused easily by gilts losing an excessive amount of body condition while suckling their first litter.

A major bonus from correct sow nutrition is that annual culling is kept to a managed 40% plus. The policy is to cull after the seventh parity unless a sow is an exceptionally good performer.

At weaning sows are reduced to 2kg of feed and then fed to appetite over the service period, when some will scoff up to 9kg a day. They are then scaled down to 2.3-2.7kg depending on body condition till one month before farrowing, when the lactation ration is re-introduced at 3.2kg a day.

The 13.4 DE dry sow feed includes 40% barley, 38.25% wheat, 10% wheat feed, plus beans, peas and oilseed rape meal blend, Hypromeal Gold, molasses and minerals-vitamins.

A good start in life for piglets scaling 7.5kg at 24 days weaning continues throughout life and the feed conversion from weaning to slaughter averages 2.35:1 with a growth rate of 582g a day over this period. Performance at the final finishing stage is currently 692g a day with a 2.68:1 conversion rate.

Mr Clarke stresses that much credit for high performance on the unit must go to his dedicated staff. Stocking density at all stages of production is the other critical factor.

Penalties in terms of reduced health and performance can be severe and this knife-edge is easily exceeded on units taking pigs to higher finishing weights."

Head pigman Brian Catling measures out the home-mixed suckler sow ration by precisely calibrated bucket. A sow suckling 10-11 piglets is built up gradually to 9kg of feed a day offered in two feeds. This careful regime ensures there is no thin sow syndrome on this unit.


Wood Farm performance

Over the last five years Large White x Landrace females, maintained from a nucleus of grandparents supplied by the Cotswold Pig Development Company, have averaged 24.1 pigs reared a sow and gilt a year. The performance includes 11.03 piglets born alive a litter, 0.98 born dead, 11.2% mortality to 23-24 days weaning and a 2.46 annual farrowing index.

Sow feed consumption averages 1.24t a year and a cost of £176 a sow a year based on a current feed cost of £147/t. Feed consumption a pig reared is 61kg a head.


FEEDING MANAGEMENT


&#8226 Home mill-and-mixing.

&#8226 Separate diets for dry and lactating sows.

&#8226 Feeding to scale based on litter size.


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