(Table of Contents)

Baby Pigs

It is important that new-born pigs receive colostrum during the first 24 hours post-farrowing. Colostrum contains the antibodies necessary for building up the baby pig's disease resistance. Bovine colostrum can be administered in addition to the sow's colostrum and can be easily stored in an ice cube tray and thawed as needed. Commercial colostrum products are available, but little research is available to currently recommend their use.

Equalizing litters within 24 to 48 hours and transferring pigs so that litters contain pigs of similar weight can improve pig survival. Commercial milk replacers can also be sued to provide supplemental milk during lactation or the first few days post-weaning. A good milk replacer should contain at least 24 to 28 percent protein and 8 to 10 percent fat. Homemade milk replacer can be made from the following:

     One quart milk
     One raw egg
     One pint half and half
     4 cc neomycin

Should I provide creep feed?

Research shows that very little creep feed will be consumed before 3 weeks of age. Often, more creep feed is wasted than consumed before then. It is recommended that creep feed be fed three to four times per day to keep a fresh diet in front of the baby pig. Pan or floor feeding may aid in increasing the consumption of creep feed. Feeders should only be used if they allow adequate access to the feed. Because of the feed wastage problems with creep feeding one should consider using a diet slightly less expensive than your first phase nursery diet. If you are considering the use of creep feeds, you should conduct a test using a minimum of two to three farrowing groups and a minimum of 30 to 40 sows per treatment.

Why do problems develop with early-weaned pigs?

Usually, when pigs are weaned at 3 to 4 weeks of age, they will go through an adjustment period. In many cases, newly weaned pigs will just maintain their body weight for the first week after weaning. Severe growth depression may result from poor ventilation, poor santitation, and poor diet selection. Although the starter diet can significantly improve performance, environmental factors can easily overshadow the benefits of a good diet.

It is beneficial to review some of the reasons why problems often develop shortly after weaning so any environment or management problems can be corrected.

There is physical stress at weaning time. Because the baby pigs are being transferred from a diet high in lactose to a diet largely consisting of very complex starch. Also, there is a physical change between liquid and dry feed, although some dry feeds can yield the same performance as liquid feeds.

The baby pig has a relatively under-developed digestive tract at 3 weeks of age and must adjust to dietary changes.

The baby pig has a limited ability to produce antibodies, which it primarily obtained from its mother during lactation.

With a sparse hair coat and relatively little body fat, the baby pig has a limited heat regulating mechanism.

Baby pigs are forced to make a social adjustment--going from the security of their dam to new environments with new pen mates.

What is phase feeding?

Phase feeding is a term used to describe the feeding of several diets for a relatively short period of time in order to closely meet the pig's nutrient requirements. When one diet is fed for along period of time, it is usually under the young pig's nutrient requirements and over fortified for the older pig. By phase feeding, you may minimize this over- and under-feeding and provide a more economical feeding program for the pig (Table 18).

Because the baby pig undergoes more dramatic changes in digestive development, the most common application of phase feeding is for starter pigs. By phase feeding, you can match the baby pig's nutrient requirements and digestive capabilities with the most economical diet possible, yet get maximum performance in the nursery. Although these diets are expensive, the low amount of feed used and excellent feed efficiency justifies the cost.

What is scheduled feeding?

Scheduled feeding is not a unique concept, however it is a very important aspect of North Carolina Swine Production. The ability to alot a specified amount of feed to a group of pigs is extremely important in controlling feed costs. The use of a feeding schedule will allow trained professionals assist you in determining a feeding program which will maximize profits. Table ? demonstrates a nursery feeding schedule based on the recommended diets. One can easily evaluate the benefit of a particular starter diet, and conduct "What-If" analyses.

What about compensatory gain?

Some people feel that slower growth rate in the nursery will be made up in the growing-finishing phase by compensatory gain. This concept originates from the belief that during a time of nutrient stress, the animal becomes more efficient at utilizing nutrients once the restriction is removed. The result would be more efficient growth after the restriction phase. This philosophy is flawed by the fact that if the animal was capable of achieving the increased efficiency after stress, it should be capable of achieving it without the stress. This is supported by current research showing that every additional pound a pig weighs coming out of the nursery will result in fewer days to market.

What is the value of dried whey and dried skim milk in starter diets?

Dried whey and dried skim milk are by-products of the cheese and fluid milk industry. Whey contains most of the water-soluble components of milk, including lactose, lactalbumin and lactoglobulin protein, minerals and water-soluble vitamins. Dried whey contains approximately 70 percent lactose (milk sugar), whereas dried skim milk contains 50 percent. Whey is vacuum-condensed to a semi-solid and then further dried, either by spray or roller drying. Dried skim milk contains less lactose but more milk proteins and is more expensive than dried whey. Therefore, dried skim milk is usually used only in diets for pigs less than 15 pounds.

Recent research shows that both dried whey and dried skim milk can be added to diets of pigs weaned between 3 and 5 weeks of age and significantly improve performance. Research also shows that milk products need to be fed for only 20 to 3 weeks after weaning or until the pig is 25 to 30 pounds. It appears that spray-dried whey is slightly better than roller-dried whey. The reasons for improvement in pig performance from feeding whey and dried skim milk appear to be improvement in feed intake, protein quality, and the high digestibility of milk proteins and carbohydrates.

There are some differences between various sources of dried whey. If whey is excessively heated, it will result in a brownish color, indicating caramelization of the sugar (lactose). This lowers the feeding value of the product. White color is desirable, although some good quality whey may have a pinkish of yellowish color from carry-over of the cheese color.

There are several forms of dried whey products such as partially delactosed whey, partially demineralized whey, and partially delactosed and partially demineralized whey. The amount of lactose and/or minerals removed from the dried whey will affect the actual amount of protein and ash present. Delactose whey is not recommended for use in baby pig diets.

There are some mechanical problems (such as bridging in the feeders and clogging in the feeding system because of moisture absorption) when feeding a 20 percent dried whey diet in meal form. Therefore, diets containing large amounts of milk products (> 20 percent) should be pelleted.

Grower diets

In a farrow-to-finish operation, grower diets represent approximately 30 to 35 percent of the feed usage. The growing pig (50 pounds) is still in the growth phase in which it is depositing lean tissue at a fast rate. Therefore, high levels of lysine and other amino acids are necessary to promote maximum lean growth. The grower phase (50 to 120 pounds) has been broken down into two phases, 50 to 80 pounds and 80 to 120 pounds, to better meet the pig's requirements (Table 19).

Finisher diets

Finishing feed will represent approximately 45 to 50 percent of the feed usage on a farrow-to-finish operation, so decisions to change or modify finishing diets must be made based on economics. Finishing pigs are more subjected to changes which affect feed intake, therefore feeding programs which include summer vs. winter diets, and (or) split-sex feeding can be economically justified (Table 20).

Gestation diets

During gestation, the recommended feeding method for gilts and sows is a limited feeding program. However, it should be emphasized that a limit-feeding program is limiting only the energy intake and not other nutrients, such as protein, minerals, and vitamins. The energy is limited in order to keep sows from becoming too fat. Excessive feeding of gilts and sows leads to increased costs and interferes with the potential to maximize reproductive efficiency.

Sows that are overfed immediately after breeding or throughout gestation often suffer high embryonic mortality, producing smaller litters than sows fed proper amounts. Sows that become too fat have a tendency to have more farrowing difficulties and crush more pigs. This is especially true during the summer, when the sows are subject to heat stress.

Diets for the pregnant female must meet her daily requirements for all essential nutrients. During normal (spring/fall) weather conditions, about 6,000 kcal of metabolizable energy per head per day will keep sows in good condition. However, this energy intake may need to be adjusted up or down depending on the condition of the sow and as the weather changes. This is usually accomplished by increasing or decreasing the amount of feed given to the sows daily.

For sows and gilts in confinement, under ideal environmental conditions, 5,000 kcal of metabolizable energy per head per day may be sufficient. During the winter, the sow should have about 7,500 kcal metabolizable energy per head per day. A good indicator of condition during gestation is weight gain. A sow should gain 75-100 lb and a gilt 100-125 lb during gestation. Sow condition is a critical indicator of performance, thus high-producing sows may require higher feeding rates to maintain adequate body condition.

The daily allowance for protein is .5 pound, lysine 9 g, Ca 16 g, and P 14.5 g. This allowance can be met by feeding 4 pounds of a 14 percent crude protein diet per day. During the summer, feed intake may be reduced to about 3.5 lb per head per day. In this case, the protein in the diet must be increased to about 16 percent to meet the .5 lb per head per day requirement, assuming amino acid levels are adequate. Feeding levels lower than 4 pounds will also require an increase in the levels of minerals and vitamins to maintain proper amounts on a daily basis.

Daily nutrient requirements for females during gestation are given in Table 21. It is important to consider that sow and gilt requirements are expressed as amount-per-head-per-day, not as a percentage as with a growing pig. Suggested gestation diets are in Table 22.

The success of limit-fed gilts and sows depends upon controlling the intake of each female. Care must be taken to see that each one gets her share. Individual sow feeding stalls are an effective device for controlling boss sows. If sows are group fed, it is imperative that the grain be spread across a larger area to reduce the amount of fighting and to ensure that all animals get the calculated energy requirement.

Interval feeding during gestation is a possible alternative to limit=feeding. Interval feeding is accomplished by feeding the sows every other or every third day. Of course, the amount fed is adjusted accordingly. For an example, instead of feeding 4 pounds each day during gestation, 8 pounds is fed every 2 days. With interval feeding, it is necessary to have sufficient feeder space. Research results have shown that a minimum of 2 to 6 hours out of every 72 hours is an adequate feeding time. Interval feeding is not recommended for gilts.

Lactation diets

Sows during lactation should be full-fed in order to obtain maximum milk production (Table 23). A sow will normally consume 9 to 15 pounds per day. This intake will depend upon a diet composition, sow's condition, previous gestation diet, and environmental temperature of the farrowing facilities. For maximum milk production, it is recommended that the sow be maintained in an environment of 60-70oF. At higher temperatures, a reduction in feed intake will be evident.

Feed ingredients with a high fiber content such as beet pulp, oats, and wheat bran, may be used as laxatives to keep sows from becoming constipated. However, they also reduce the energy density of the diet and limit sow energy intake. Chemical laxatives, such as magnesium, potassium, or sodium sulfate, may be a preferred method of controlling constipation problems. The recommended level of magnesium sulfate (Epsom Salts) is 10 to 20 pounds per ton or top dressing about 1 to 2 tablespoons per feeding. Suggested lactation diets are listed in Table 22.

Can the gestation and lactation diets be the same?

In smaller swine operations, it may not be practical to use two different diets for the sow herd. Therefore, the lactation diet, if properly formulated, can be fed during gestation at the rate of 4 to 6 pounds per sow per day. Feed cost will be higher if the lactation diet is fed during gestation.

Boar diets

Boars can be fed a grain-soybean meal diet fortified similarly to a gestation diet. The daily feeding rate has to be changed to reflect differences of season, condition, and workload of the boar. Boars under heavy use should be fed 6 pounds per head per day.

What are the suggested nutrient levels?

In this publication the nutrient recommendations have been increased beyond those of the NRC (National Research Council). This adds a margin of safety for each of the essential nutrients.

Developing gilt and boar diets

Several nutrient requirements for developing breeding herd replacements are different from those for growing-finishing market hogs. Table 25 provides suggested levels for amino acids, vitamins, and minerals for replacement gilts and developing boars.

Composition of feed ingredients

In formulating diets to meet the recommended nutrient requirements of swine, it is necessary to know the nutrient composition of each ingredient used. Compositions of ingredients commonly used in swine diets are given in Table 26.

Individual ingredients can vary widely in composition because of the variation in species or variety, storage conditions, climate, soil moisture, and agronomic differences. Variations in chemical analytical procedure also affect values obtained. Therefore, the values given are an average and are subject to interpretation.

Example Swine diets & Feeding Schedules

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