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Market demands for feeding just-weaned piglets

What are the main demands in the market for just-weaned piglets? On the basis of R&D data and many on-farm experiences, animal nutrition company Provimi distinguished between three major global tendencies, happening at the same time.

By Pieter Wolleswinkel, product manager swine, Provimi, Rotterdam, the Netherlands
Better technical results
At a recent farm visit, a producer explained he had to build three additional pig houses as he needed extra space. Why? His total number of piglets had grown a lot, due to larger litters. But the uniformity has gone down, resulting in more weight groups and more need for onfarm growing space. His situation was exemplary for perhaps the most common trend in modern pig production, related to economics: insufficient piglet growth. Pig producers, e.g. in Europe but also in SE Asia, are increasingly focused on achieving better technical results. Anyone can find these developments back in more live born pigs per litter and more weaned piglets per litter.

This also leads to a situation in which average birth and weaning weights are decreasing; leading in turn to a decreased productivity per piglet. On top of that, there is another tendency and this is related to hygiene. More producers nowadays choose to leave litters intact, to leave piglets with their own sows.

This, however, may not be beneficial from a uniformity point of view. It takes a lot of good feeding management to have bigger piglets started well but also pay attention to the

Feeding concepts for piglets
Moving away from selling a large range of individual products, animal nutrition company Provimi has introduced three feeding concepts for just-weaned piglets, according to the three tendencies noted in the market. This piglet feed programme includes the previous range of products that will be renamed to fit within this new strategy. The company developed a quick scan for any pig farm to find out what method would suit them best.
• In short, farms experiencing setbacks as a result of insufficient growth, are advised to consider a four-stage programme focused on extra growth. This programme (HeavyPig), consists of four different products and basically contains extra acid mixes to optimise growth and uniformity, by e.g. the physical aspects of the feed.
• For farms experiencing health problems, a three-stage feeding strategy (HealthyPig) has been devised to reduce health problems by stimulating the pig’s immune system.
• Those farms heading for clear communication, less labour and more efficiency could opt for a ‘simple’ two-stage feeding strategy (EasyPig). This programme still ensures a strong performance.
smaller piglets in a litter. Reality, however, shows that in all stages of life, the percentage of light-weight piglets at weaning is on the increase. In short: there is a huge demand for extra growth – worldwide.
Increased health
Globally, there are large differences in medicine use. Many producers wonder how they can lower health costs using proper nutrition, lower the mortality rate in litters and lower medicine use. Current legal tendencies in health matters are crystal clear: there is a political wish to clamp down on the use of medicines throughout the intensive livestock industry. Many scientific reports support that wish and the effects of its use can increasingly be monitored well.
The Netherlands is leading when it comes down to reducing the amount of medicine given to pigs. For instance, zinc (used for the prevention of enteric diseases) is legally maximised at a low dose. The majority in Danish pig production is also following this route. In other pig producing countries throughout the European Union, this same consciousness is growing rapidly. Outside Europe, for instance South Korea is moving along this line. Being conscious as to how to prevent diseases helps to make large steps forward.
This can be done by analysing the health status on a farm, in combination with a vaccination strategy. Medication use can thus be reduced to those moments when there is no other option left. Supplying the right kind of feed and the right management straight after weaning can help with prevention. Farmers for that reason have to look very carefully at their pigs. They should not to see 95% of the problems, but 100% of the problems. Usually, the last 5% include the so-called ‘hunger-strikers’ - those are the piglets that catch diseases. Getting the percentage of hunger- strikers down helps in preventing disease among pigs in general. This is where a correct feeding strategy comes in. Getting weaned piglets to eat sufficiently is important, e.g. by supplying creep feed before weaning, so they’ll be familiar with the feed. In addition, serving medicine just after weaning may work counterproductive as many medicine contain bitter flavours – the result being that piglets will not eat at all.
Evidence of communication problems can be found anywhere in the world. For instance, pig farm workers supplying that expensive early weaner feed or creep feed to hungry finishers can lead to enormous increase in costs instead of the hoped-for efficiency rates. For that reason, the third demand can often be found in Eastern Europe and essentially in any large pig production facility, be it in Canada or the USA – especially when there is a large number of foreign employees, who do not really master the original language. Language barriers create a necessity for the so-called KISS principle – “Keep It Short & Simple” The message is clear: in order to reach a better economic result, management is not supposed to cost time and labour efficiency. A feed strategy requires transparency, ease and results. PP


Pig Progress, volume 26, no.1 2010

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