Weaning starts long before the pigs are actually weaned. If the piglets are adequately prepared to be weaned from the sow, you can prevent several complications in the nursery. One preparation is the transition from sow milk to solid feed. Getting the piglets adapted to dry feed before weaning, will ensure a high dry matter intake before weaning, which is essential for maximizing growth, preventing post weaning diarrhea and reducing the use of antibiotics. We have gathered some thoughts on how to boost the performance of your weaners in the nursery.
One of the objectives in preparing your piglets for weaning is teaching the piglets to eat dry feed. This ensures that they are sufficiently adapted to their new source of feed after weaning. Pigs are curious by nature, and this can be used to trick the piglets into eating a great amount of creep feed leading to an overall increase of dry matter intake.
As early as 5-10 days after farrowing, the piglets can be introduced to a high digestible creep feed with good palpability. Keep the creep feed fresh and interesting, by feeding small amounts several times a day (3-6 times). Make sure the piglets are not given more feed per feeding than they can eat prior to the next ”meal”.
When the piglets reach age 12-15 days, you can start transitioning to a second creep diet with bigger particles and a higher amount of fiber, for example from oats, but make sure to maintain a high digestibility of the protein sources in the feed.
Plenty of fresh water
Keep stimulating the piglets’ curiosity and keep motivating feed intake by providing fresh feed often, but still feeding the piglets slightly restricted. Doing this will increase the total dry matter intake from feed and prepare the piglets for weaning with the benefit of better performance in the nursery.
During the first 5-7 days post weaning it is a good idea to let the piglets have the same type of creep feed as fed in the farrowing unit, or a similar starter diet of high palpability. Giving feed of familiar taste and same level of nutrients will reduce the growth check the first week after weaning . Apply the feed on the solid floor, on a wooden plate, on rubber mats or in a long trough. Use the same principles for feeding as in the farrowing unit, feed smaller amounts several times a day.
If feeding liquid feed, be careful with hygiene as bacteria can easily multiply in the liquid feed, increasing the risk of disease. For better control measure the amount of feed given on the floor or in the trough. Besides the creep feed, the first nursery diet can be applied in the regular feeder from day one.
Access to plenty of fresh water in both the farrowing unit and the nursery is crucial. The better the water access for the piglets the higher the feed intake.
4 tips from the DanBred Technical Services Team
- Train your piglets in eating dry feed, by stimulating their curiosity through multiple feedings per day with fresh feed.
- Training should begin in the farrowing unit, at 5-10 days, to ensure a smooth transition to the nursery.
- Supply plenty of fresh water in both the farrowing unit and the nursery to increase feed intake.
- Avoid overfeeding the piglets as this only brings poor feed intake and feed waste.
The combination of training the piglets with high quality feed, good hygiene and plenty of fresh water will lead your piglets into a flying start in the nursery.
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