Transition feeder boosts growth

16 February 2001

Transition feeder boosts growth

By Hannah Velten

AN EXPERIMENTAL transition feeding system, to encourage weaners onto the wet feeding system used on one Essex-based unit, resulted in increased growth rates worth at least £1.10/pig.

Impressive trial results led Chris Leamon of Leather Bottle Farm, Matching Green, to invest in 13 Pioneer transition feeders to avoid post-weaning growth check.

"We had problems getting 8kg weaners, at 26 days old, onto wet feeding which made it difficult to keep food fresh. Once feed in the trough became stale, pigs would not touch it and growth was impaired," says Mr Leamon, who runs 340 with his brother, Robert.

With 7000 pigs sold a year, at 71kg deadweight, piglets eating too little dry matter were wasting money. The initial solution was to manually feed weaners twice a day, for the first 10 days, on a gruel mix.

Although this encouraged piglets to eat from the trough, time restrictions led Mr Leamon to search for another solution.

"In October 1999, we tried two Pioneer feeders which automatically dispense small quantities of highly palatable feed throughout the day. We found our piglets ate more when the feed had a soup-like consistency."

Two pens of 55 piglets were compared, one group on gruel and the other on the transition feeder. Highly digestible meal was offered initially, with progressively less digestible meal following, up until 12-14 days old when they started on wet feed. During the trial additional creep feed was offered in the wet feed troughs, which also stopped piglets fouling the trough.

Pigs were weighed three times at weaner, grower and rearer stage (see table), which Mr Leamon believes allowed for accurate trial results. "Piglets on the transition feeder were 1kg lighter than the gruel-fed group at weaning and the first weighing showed the latter group to gain more weight than those on the transition feeder."

However, Mr Leamon found that as both groups continued through the wet feed system, those who had started on the transition feeder outstripped the performance of the gruel-fed group. "While the control group gained an average of 616g a day, achieving 77.16kg liveweight at 114 days, those on the transition feeder managed 645g a day, reaching 79.58kg at the same age."

"Piglets were eating up to 1kg of feed, including creep, at four weeks after weaning, with top weight piglets at 20kg," he says.

Mr Leamon believes that the transition feeder allows piglets digestive systems to adapt gradually to wet feeding causing less scouring and increasing feed conversion ratio. &#42


&#8226 Used for 10-14 days post-weaning.

&#8226 Increased growth rates.

&#8226 Healthy digestive system.

Average daily liveweight gain at differing stages of production

Pig Weight DLWG

TRANSITION 6-18kg 356g

FEEDER 18-32kg 500g

32-80kg 816g

GRUEL-FED 7-20kg 380g

20-31kg 419g

31-77kg 789g

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