Nursery Pig Performance

December 24, 2018


Majority of swine feeders say early intake is a challenge in the swine operations. The change from liquid to a solid diet with ingredients that aren't as easily digestible often cause pigs to back off feed. This, along with a new social structure and reduced water intake, hurts the immature immune system and creates digestive upset and diarrhea. While discussing solutions with producers, our swine specialists know the importance of a good start and how it affects a pig throughout its growth stages. Decreased feed intake delays performance and impacts gut and immune development. Any dramatic changes to feed intake and digestion will prevent a pig from reaching its full performance potential. Research done at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center shows that pigs who started strong performed better in the grower and finisher phase. Their data showed that every lb. at the end of nursery correlated to 2.1 lbs. at finish.

Before moving to a pelleted starter feed, consider a gel-based option. A gel-based feed provides a feed and water component to the young pig. This gel contains high-quality ingredients, is very palatable, and if kept at room temperature, is shelf stable. Experiments using gel supplementation during the first seven days showed the most significant response in young and light pigs, suggesting gel eases the transition to dry feed.

 To reach heavy market weights, we must choose a starter feed that is easy to digest and tastes good to the animal. Feed formulated with aromatic compounds encourages pigs to eat and consume the nutrients they require. The Purina Ultracare products are the starter feed of choice at many of our CVA feed locations, and this intake, optimizing technology supports performance. The changes made to these feeds include the intake enhancer that drives pigs to feed after weaning and the revised ingredients which supports bigger gains at a lower price. This new formula gives a 1 lb. weight advantage at day 21 post-weaning and 2 lbs. at day 42 post-weaning. The ADG improved to 4.5% in days 0-42 and ADFI to 4.3% in days 0-42.

When considering a pelleted or meal diet, weigh the cost of pellets to the potential economic benefit. Pellets are easier to handle and reduce feed waste. Research from Purina shows a 7% improvement in feed efficiency when feeding pellets. Pellets reduce particle size for the manufacturer, and that lowers handling issues that a meal can cause. Finally, pellets support digestibility because the heating process during pelleting breaks down carbohydrate bonds making the pellets more digestible for the pigs. If a producer has a good quality pellet for a source, a pellet diet through at least the nursery phase will pay off. Stop by your local Central Valley Ag feed location and talk to one of our specialists about gel and pelleted starter feeds.

by Brandi Salestrom
Posted: 12/24/2018 8:23:49 AM by Kristin Petersen | with 0 comments