Before cutting costs in your wean-to-finish or grower/finisher operation, one Purina expert advises taking a hard look at how well you are managing transitions … a low-cost change in management could save more money than a cut to inputs in the long run.
“Smooth transitions help pigs stay focused on intake and feed conversion for optimal gut health and overall performance,” said Dan McManus, DVM, young animal swine specialist with Purina Animal Nutrition. “If you manage the environment to limit transitional challenges, you can help your pigs build on their weaning weights for optimal end of nursery weights.”
According to research at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center, weaning weights and end-of-nursery weights are strong predictors of finishing weights. In an 18-month study involving 1,770 pigs, results indicated each additional pound at weaning was correlated to an increase of 1.8 pounds at Day 32. Each additional pound at Day 32 post-weaning correlated to 2.1 additional pounds at finishing on Day 110.
McManus suggests these three tips for transition management to help pigs build on their weaning and end-of-nursery weights:
1. Know what your pigs need before arrival
Be sure to confirm the exact number of head and arrival dates, the ages and weights of the pigs and the percentage of health-challenged pigs. Good communication with the sow farm will allow you to be prepared and anticipate any issues that might come up in the first few weeks after weaning.
2. Minimize stress with a spotless environment
One simple, low-cost way to promote healthy pigs is to be diligent when cleaning before new groups arrive, McManus said. Clean your barn top to bottom, inside and out. This includes cleaning slats, feeders, gating, inlets, fans and curtains, as well as office equipment, boots, rattle paddles and sorting panels. All surfaces should be disinfected and dried before new pigs arrive. Consider inspecting the facility when cleaning is finished to make sure it meets your expectations.
3. Manage each pig’s needs
You can expect 10 percent of the delivered pigs to be smaller than desirable. Plan ahead to manage these pigs differently. Separating small pigs from the main population will allow you to feed and manage to their needs to help them perform their best.