Monday, June 18, 2018

Supplementing milk in situ ‘boosts weaning weight’

April 3, 2018 by  
Filed under Livestock

A helping hand by supplementing the sow’s milk in situ is going a long way to improve piglet performance in larger litters.

Genetic improvements mean litters of 13-14 piglets. But the sow’s ability to produce milk to feed her offspring hasn’t improved at the same rate, so more producers are supplementing the sow’s milk ‘in situ’– with impressive results.

Dutch Research work suggests the sow produces 360 litres of milk on average in a four-week span, whether she has 10 piglets or 14. As a benchmark, its estimated she can provide for 90kg to 100kg of pigs at four weeks old on milk, dry feed and no added supplementation.

But sows need help to support larger litters, says Cargill pig specialist David Hardy. He has seen  encouraging results in herds where piglets are supplemented through the Neopigg RescueCare system. “Results are convincing and consistent with Cargill trial work,” he says.

“We’ve seen a weaned weight of pig of 150kg at four weeks old where the Neopigg RescueCare system is operating and this is phenomenal. Supplementing the sow’s milk in this way is bringing fantastic results that can easily justify its use.”

The Neopigg RescueCare system works by having a RescueCup in each farrowing pen, accessible by all piglets. Ad-lib RescueMilk is fed through the cups from day three and this is followed with a Rescue pre-starter feed after five days and fed up to weaning.

This avoids relying on foster sows which puts extra pressure on farrowing room management. “Not only are the smaller piglets able to get sufficient feed, but the system has been shown to enhance the appetite of larger piglets in the group.”

Pigs can also reach heavier weaning weights – more than15kg where the full Neopigg RescueCare system is adopted. Looking at costs, Mr Hardy says Cargill’s UK team has estimated a payback of 2 to 1 where the Neopigg RescueCare system is used.

“The results are good, and I am seeing a growing interest in the system among progressive pig farmers,” he adds. “It’s a valuable management tool that farmers can use to realise the genetic potential of their herd – and most importantly, no piglet goes hungry.”

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