Archive for the ‘Pig Feeders’ Category

by Dr Mike Brumm |

With high feed ingredient prices affecting pork producers around the world, it seems logical to expect that closer attention would be paid to management of feeders in swine facilities. However, the experience of every consultant and industry advisor whom the author knows suggests that producers, employees and contract growers continue to be lax in the daily adjustment of feeders.

One of the challenges in feeder adjustment is the many variations in feeder design, especially at the point of feed access by the pig. In some hog feeders, pigs turn wheels or activate agitation devices to make feed available for consumption. In others, feed delivery is controlled by means of a slotted device whose width is controlled by the producer. Add to this the differences in feed flow-ability between mash and pellets, between high- and low-fibre diets, between high- and low-fat inclusion levels and you have the recipe for much variation in the expectation for proper feeder setting to minimise wastage while maximising intake and gain.

In the United States, where a majority of all diets are corn- and soybean meal-based, there are several visual guides available for feeder adjustment. The most commonly used source is a set of pictures from Kansas State University swine specialists.

Equipment manufacturers and nutrition suppliers also offer pictorial guides to assist in feeder adjust.

While these pictures can be very helpful, employees and contract growers often do not relate these pictures to their facilities. There are production facilities where these pictures are posted on the office wall as a guide for employees and the employees ignore the pictures.

In the author’s experience, the best method to have cooperation of all parties in achieving consistent feeder adjustment is to use a digital camera. As the owner and employee or as the advisor and owner/employee walk pens in a facility examining pigs and feeder and drinker adjustments, when they agree on the appropriate feeder adjustment setting, take a picture of the feeder. Print the picture and post it in the office or hallway to the facility (pictures 1 and 2). Now the employee has ‘ownership’ in feeder adjustment because the picture of a correctly adjusted feeder is one that he/she participated in.

Pig feeder adjustment will help minimize waste while maximizing intake and gain. Pictures courtesy of Farmweld Inc.

In general, the research data suggests that feeders designed for ad libitum feed access with diets in the mash form should have approximately 40 per cent of the feeder pan covered with feed. If pan coverage is less than 20 per cent, feed intake may be limited, which will result in a decrease in daily gain and often only a minimal improvement in feed conversion efficiency.


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Part of raising pigs the right way is to feed them properly. Pigs eat a lot and quickly. Pigs need a high energy diet that is low in fiber and contains some protein. They eat a lot of food though- the phrase hungry as a pig comes from the fact that a pig will eat just about anything. However, some foods are better than others and if you want to raise a fat and healthy pig, it will be important to give them the right balance of food.

Farm grains are the most common and best source of food to feed pigs. Corn is typically used to feed pigs because it is high in digestible carbohydrates, low in fiber, and tasty! However, corn needs to be supplemented with other vitamins in food in order to keep pigs healthy.

You need to include sources of protein and antibacterial compounds to their feed to slow the growth of harmful bacteria that occurs naturally. In small does, these compounds increase the growth rate of pigs and help lower feeding costs. If you use an antibacterial compound, you must pay attention to the withdrawal rate of the compound. This is the period of time that medicated feeds must be removed from a hog’s diet before you can slaughter them.

Pigs weighing 40 to 125 pounds are referred to as growing pigs. From 125 pounds to market weight (about 230 pounds) pigs are called finishing pigs. As a pig grows, the total amount of dietary protein it needs each day also increases; pigs should be switched from the grower (nutrient dense/more protein) to the finisher (less dense) diet when they weigh about 125 pounds.

Pigs should be self-fed via a trough and this allows them to grow as quickly as possible. Pigs will continue to eat and eat until they are full and its important to let them eat as much as they want. Feeding them yourself might lead to undernourishment as you might think “ohh they have had enough.” But they will know when that have had enough. Let your pigs self eat by creating a deep and big trough for them to eat from. You can also use gravity feed pig feeders and ration style hog feeders that minimize wasted feed.

6 Bushel Oscillating Grower Feeder. To see our complete line of hog feeders, visit us at

Water is the most important part of a pig’s diet. One-half to two-thirds of a pig’s body is water weight. Pigs must be given all the water they can drink. Water is as important to pigs as it is to people.

Using this information, you’ll be able to feed your pigs the right food and create healthy pigs that will ensure they grow large and fat so when it comes time to slaughter them, their meat will be the best it could have been. Just a like a proper diet is important to plants and people, so it is important to pigs. Make sure to feed them the right food.


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by Karen Alicea |

When you receive your feeder pig it should be between 40-75 lbs in weight and around 8 to 10 weeks of age. At this point your pig has been on some sort of solid food for some time. You should also get more than one pig, having only one pig at a time will take longer for your pig to gain weight. Pigs just have the natural instinct to fight for their food if there is only one they have no need to fight for their food therefore they will not try to get the most they can at all times.

In order to get your feeder pig to continue on the path to maximum growth the best thing that I have found for them is first that giving them a ground corn tends to be better for younger pigs than say a whole or cracked corn because it is easier for them to digest, and they get more from the corn rather than it just being expelled immediately. Though this is a bit time consuming it is much better for them and you will see a difference in the overall weight gain. Next I add a soybean meal which is high in protein and will also contribute to the weight gain, protein is one of the main components in getting your pigs to excel in their growth.

Then there is the pig grain, you can use this either with or without medications in it, for the first couple of months I tend to prefer it with it because as you will well know that pigs are very susceptible to stress and having these medications in their food help to keep there immune system up and anything that may help is a plus. I take some of each of these rationed according to the number of pigs that I have making sure that at first at the 8 week level each pig gets about 1 lb of food a day. Feeding my pigs twice a day. I take this mix of the ground corn, soybean meal, and grain mix it together and then I wet it making it into a mush like mix, doing this makes for the pigs digestive system to take longer to digest it and once again adding to overall weight. At about every 2 week increase their food by 1 lb each pig and if you have any local fruit and vegetable markets you can stop and ask for any old food they will let you have it which in some cases will keep feed costs down but it will take longer to put on weight if you cut back on the other feed. You also can get day old breads or even donuts from local bakeries they will sometimes let you have them too but be careful that type of foods will give your pigs diarrhea and can contribute to much fat other wise you will have a very lean pig in about 4 months.


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by Lora Berg |

Wasting the equivalent of a feeder’s worth of feed by running it into a manure pit can definitely have a negative impact on feed efficiency.

Making sure equipment is properly maintained is just one example of the ways the person working in the barn can impact feed efficiency. Mike Tokach, Kansas State University (KSU), says focusing on specific tasks prior to loading a barn with new pigs, during the loading phase, while doing daily chores, and again when the barn is unloaded can have a positive influence on feed efficiency.

Prior to Entry

A clean barn includes clean feeders. Before a new group of pigs enters a barn, the feed bins should be emptied to ensure pigs can start on appropriate diets. “A late finishing diet has a 40% lower lysine level than a grower diet. Obviously, feed efficiency is not going to be very good if you start pigs out on a diet that is 40% below their lysine requirement,” Tokach says.

Feed bunk 12' with slant bar panel, for hay, grain, mineral and silage. To check our complete line of hog feeders please visit us at

In addition to thoroughly cleaning the facility, check and repair feed handling equipment. Look for leaking bins, broken feed lines and inoperable feeder adjustment rods. Grease the bearings on equipment between groups and take care of any previous “temporary” fixes.

“Duct tape is a short-term repair. If you don’t take the time to make the permanent repair before the next group of pigs enters the barn, you could end up with a disaster,” Tokach says. In addition, check fans, fan covers and louvers, sprinklers, heaters, curtains, insulation and waterers as part of the regular maintenance schedule between groups.

Loading the Barn

While loading the new group into the barn, do not sort pigs into tight weight categories. “Studies show a negative effect on growth performance when sorting pigs into light, medium and heavy categories because the pigs fight more compared to pigs that have not been sorted by weight range,” he explains. Care should be taken to not overstock pens or leave too many open pens. Some feeders may not work well if pigs are not placed on both sides of a fenceline feeder.

Daily Chores

Attention to detail while doing daily chores can help improve feed efficiency. Making sure pigs are healthy, implementing euthanasia plans in a timely manner and making sure pigs have water available at all times are important steps.

Tokach encourages barn managers and growers to follow correct feed budgets and take note of amino acid levels, proper energy levels and how fiber content and withdrawal of distiller’s dried grains with solubles (DDGS) can influence feed efficiency on a carcass basis. Tools are available from many feed companies to help manage feed budgets.

Managing the pigs’ environment means maintaining air quality and minimizing heat stress and cold temperatures. “Studies have shown a negative impact on feed efficiency from going above or below a pig’s critical temperature,” Tokach says. “Undergoing heat stress takes energy and results in poor feed efficiency, too. It goes back to barn maintenance. Make sure the fans and sprinkler systems are all working properly before hot weather and high critical temperatures become a problem.”

Feeder Adjustment

Proper feeder adjustment plays a crucial role in feed efficiency. Tokach recommends 50% pan coverage for most dry feeders now instead of previous recommendations for 15-25% pan coverage. He says if there is adequate to excess feeder space, opening feeders too much can increase feed disappearance and result in poorer feed efficiency, particularly after approximately 150 lb. However, if pigs are restricted on feeder space, opening feeders will increase average daily feed intake and average daily gain.

Touching on feeder design, Tokach generally recommends that feeders be at least 14 in. wide, or the shoulder width of a pig right before market, and approximately 10 in. deep. “It is important that the pig is able to eat freely without rubbing its head on the storage compartment of the feeder while eating,” he says.

While feeder dividers can make it more difficult to adjust feeders, they do allow more pigs to eat at one time because pigs are forced to stand perpendicular to the hog feeder.

Unloading the Barn

Unloading the barn is yet another area where a barn manager can have a tremendous impact on feed efficiency. Tokach says savings can be made by withdrawing feed 12 to 18 hours prior to pigs being processed at the slaughter plant. “You don’t ever want the pigs off feed for more than 24 hours before processing. Time in transit and holding at the plant should be included in the calculation of time off feed,”
he says.

Tokach also recommends pulling some pigs from all pens when marketing. “Research shows topping off the barn improves growth rate of all remaining pigs in the pen. By pulling 16% of pigs from the pen, substantial feed savings of 13 lb./pig were realized while producing the same total market weight in one research trial,” he relates.

Remember to handle pigs with care at every step in the production process. Each 0.5% increase in mortality increases closeout feed efficiency by 0.02 because less weight will be marketed.


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by Dr. Elizabeth Magowan |

There are many commercial feeder types available for pig producers to choose from and in this study, five commercially available feeder types are evaluated on post weaned pigs. The feeder types were: 1) Dry multi space (offered dry feed from four separated compartments beside each other); 2) Wet and dry multi space (offered dry feed and water from three separate compartments beside each other); 3) Maximat (offered a wet feed from a rectangular communal trough); 4) Lean machine (offered a wet feed from a circular communal trough), and 5) Wet and dry single space feeder (offered dry feed and water from a single compartment). In total 800 pigs, housed in 20 pigs per pen were used.

The highest feed intakes and growth rates were attained when pigs were offered feed from the multi space feeders (Table 1). However, pigs offered feed from a dry multi space feeder were more efficient in terms of feed conversion than those offered feed from a wet and dry multi space feeder. The multi space feeder design mimics that of the sucking formation in that it enables pigs to feed together. It appears that the water offered in the wet and dry multi space feed may have caused the feed to become unpalatable. When the total cost of feed consumed per pig from 4-10 weeks of age was calculated a difference of 43p/pig was observed between the dry multi space feeder and the wet and dry multi space feeder. This equates to ₤1,850 on a 200-sow unit where 22 pigs are produced per year per sow. It is concluded that the optimum feeder type for post weaned pigs is the dry multi space feeder.

Does a change in feeder type slow growth?

When pigs are transferred to finishing accommodation on many farms, they experience an abrupt change in feeder type, for example at ARINI feeders change from a Dry multi space feeder to a wet and dry single space feeder. However, a growth check in performance is commonly observed between 10 and 11 weeks of age i.e. in the week directly after pigs are transferred. It is known that changes in the environment of pigs can result in a growth check, mainly as a result of reduced feed intake.

Changes in feeder type at this stage may exacerbate this growth check. It was hypothesized that if the feed type remained constant throughout the life of the pig, feed intake and growth rate could be optimized. Two feeder types were evaluated: a dry multi space feeder (M), and a wet and dry single space feeder (S); over four treatments of feeder sequences (1- S-S; 2- M-M; 3- S-M; 4- M-S). Therefore feeder type changed in two treatments and did not change in the other two treatments. In total 640 pigs housed in 20 pigs per pen were used. The results are shown in Table 2.

Although a greater decrease in feed intake and growth rate was observed in pigs which changed feeder type when they moved accommodation, overall from wean to finish pigs which changed from a dry multi space feeder in stake 1/stage 2 accommodation to a wet and dry single space feeder in finishing accommodation had the highest growth rate. As a result of the high growth rate, the pigs which changed feeder type from a dry multi space feeder to a wet and dry single space feeder had the lowest total feed cost from wean to 100kg live weight. On a 200 sow unit, producing 22 pigs/sow/year, the total feed cost difference between employing the feeder regime of a dry multi space feeder to a wet and dry single space feeder instead of a wet and dry single space feeder throughout the entire life of the pig equated to ₤2,550 per herd per year.


The optimum feeder regime from wean to finish involves using a dry multi space feeder in the space 1/stage 2 accommodation and a wet and dry single space feeder in the finishing accommodation. Major savings can be made using the correct feeder type and regime. Work is currently ongoing at ARINI investigating the use of commercially available ‘transition’ and ‘Jetmix’ feeders, which offer fixed amounts of feed in the form of a wet gruel from a communal trough in the stage 1/stage 2 accommodation.


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A healthy, happy show pig needs nutritious food regularly. Choose a feed that’s high in energy (corn), low in fiber (cellulose) and supplemented with protein.

The 6 bushel oscillating grower feeder will help you keep hogs healthy and properly fed. Get yours at

Things You Will Need

  • Feed Bucket Holders
  • Feed Buckets
  • Pig Dusting Powders
  • Pig Finishing Feeds
  • Pig Starter Feeds
  • Straws
  • Animal Water Buckets
  • Wood Shavings


1. Ask your veterinarian what type of feed is best for your particular breed of pig.

2. Feed your pig at least once a day, twice a day for maximum weight gain.

3. Give the entire amount of feed your pig will eat at one time. The amount will increase as your pig increases in size and age.

4. Provide your pig with a starter feed if he’s under 125 lbs.

5. Feed finishing feed to pigs over 125 lbs.

6. Check with the feed manufacturer about any antibacterial compounds added to feed. This type of feed will need to be removed from your pig’s diet prior to slaughter for the listed withdrawal time.

7. Remember to provide fresh water at all times. One-half to two-thirds of a pig’s body is made up of water.

Tips & Warnings

Exercise, feed, water and good care will foster a good weight-gain rate, and you may bring home a blue ribbon.


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A newborn pig grows to approximately 250 pounds in five to six months. Typically, a young pig is weaned from the sow at around 8 weeks of age and weighs 40 pounds. Prior to this time, the sow nurses the baby pigs up to 24 times a day. They consume a diet heavy in protein. After the weaning stage, young pigs need a new diet of dry feed. This new diet must consist of minerals, vitamins, energy feed and a protein supplement.

Things You’ll Need

  • Water trough
  • Self-feeder
  • Commercial starter feed

Big Wheel Hog Feeder - 25 to 105 bushel, available at


1. Choose a starter feed that is digestible, economical and palatable for young piglets. Young pigs need to consume a diet of approximately 18 percent protein. Provide a relatively inexpensive protein meal with soybeans, or give whey and skim milk for a higher quality source of protein; however, the latter option costs more than soybeans. Try blood meal, fish meal and peanut meal to add protein to the diet as well.

2. Purchase a starter feed with adequate amounts of minerals and vitamins for a growing pig. Be sure the feed can provide the young pigs with the energy they need to grow. Look for ingredients such as barely, wheat and corn.

3. Look for a starter feed that is either crumbled, pelleted or ground. Smaller feed is easier for younger pigs to digest. Young pigs eat approximately 3 to 5 pounds of food a day.

4. Set up a self-feeder for the younger pigs. A hog feeder keeps the food dry and clean. Provide enough space for all the pigs to access the feeder at once. Feed the young pigs twice a day, if a self-feeder is not available.

5. Provide fresh water to the pigs at all times. Piglets around 8 week of age can begin to use a nipple waterier which keeps the drinking water clean. Clean and replace water in troughs regularly if they are used.

Tips & warnings

  • Talk to local farmers, herders and breeders if you have questions about the proper care of young pigs.


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by Tammy Bronson |

There are two kinds of hog feeders, the gravity kind and the ration kind. Ration feeders require adjustments allowing only a certain amount of food dispensing at one time; gravity feeders fill a trough to a leveling point and then stops dispensing. Both types of feeders regulate the amount of food a hog has available. The goal of adjusting feed is to minimize the waste of feed from spillage and over-feeding. There are categories of hog feeder: nursery, grower and finishing hog feeders. The weight of a hog feeder is substantial making it difficult for the hog to knock the feeder over.

Big wheel hog feeder, available at

Things You’ll Need

  • Ruler


  1. Read the marked settings on the ration feeder. Choose a feed gate that leaves the hog satisfied, but not overly full.
  2. Shift the adjustment lever up to reduce the amount of food dispensed and down to increase the amount.
  3. Measure the amount of food the feeder dispenses. On average the feed gate should dispense 11/48 inches of food.
  4. Check the bolt on the adjustment lever periodically. If the stud welded on to the adjustment lever is broken then the hog feeder is dispensing too much food. It is not uncommon for hogs to play and break the exposed parts of a hog feeder.

Tips & warnings

  • Letting a hog run wild will burn off calories and require greater amounts of food consumption. House slaughtering hogs in a small area preventing running so that bulking up requires less feed.


To get more information on cattle scales, cattle guards, or saddle pads, please visit Barn World.

To get more information on grain weight conversion, hog feeders, and hay feeders, please visit Barn World.

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Raising pigs on your farm requires time and a large investment. There are several things needed when you begin to raise pigs. It is profitable if you do it the right way. I would suggest to anyone that wants to get started raising pigs start on a small scale basis. Also make sure you have all the needed accessories before you start.

Here is what you will need to get started:

1. A good fence around the location you plan to keep the hogs. The fence doesn’t have to be as tall for a pig as some animals, but it needs to be sturdy, especially at the bottom.

2. Don’t overcrowd your pigs. In confinement it doesn’t take as much space, but outside you need at least 100 sq. ft. per pig.

3. An adequate watering system. Pigs need fresh water available to them all of the time, and lots of it.

4. I also recommend a large hog feeder. It saves a lot of waste and time with the feeding.

6 Bushel Oscillating Grower Feeder - Model S628GF, available at

5. Also you will need good shelter for the hogs during storms and in the heat.

6. If you plan on keeping sows to raise your own piglets you will also need some type of farrowing house. This will protect your litters from the weather.

Now that you have all of these things you are ready to get your pigs. You need to decide what kind of operation you are going to run. I like to buy feeder pigs that are around 45lbs and then top them out to market weight. I find this way more profitable for myself. You can also raise the pigs yourself to top out or sell as feeders. It takes longer to turn over a profit and plus you have to keep sows and a boar on hand at all times.

The first and foremost thing in raising pigs is proper feed and nutrition. Corn is the number one feed for hogs, but you will need some type of supplement to feed along with it. Your local veterinarian or feed store can assist you with this. Also run a clean operation to keep your hogs disease free. Disease could wipe out your entire operation if not taken care of.

These are the basics of raising pigs for profit. Whether you decide to go large scale or just raise enough to put meat on your families table. It takes a lot of hard work but in the end you will be pleased with what you produce. Have fun and remember it takes no more time to raise ten hogs than it does one. Just start out with what is comfortable for you and your budget.


To get more information on cattle scales, cattle guards, or saddle pads, please visit Barn World.

To get more information on grain weight conversion, hog feeders, and hay feeders, please visit Barn World.

To get more information on bulk feed bins, livestock scales, and radiant under-floor heating, please visit Barn World.

Not every company with a booth or exhibit at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines this week claims that their product can save feed. But, a lot of them do.

Signs in the exhibit aisles scream out to the hog farmers: “Cut feed costs!”; “Get more efficient!”; “Let us help you save on the feed bill!”

These exhibitors aren’t dumb — they know that the first question on every pork producer’s mind these days is how to survive with six-dollar corn.

I wonder, as I wander those aisles, if I put enough of these products to use, could I get so efficient that my pigs would grow on absolutely NO feed, just breathing air? OK, let’s see what we can do.

My first stop is at the A.J. O’Mara Group, LLC. There, John A’Mara explains their line of stainless steel hog feeders, called Feed Ease Equipment. The Cadillac of the lineup is a grow-finish feeder that has a water nipple right in the feed trough. To get a drink, the pigs have to run water onto the feed, which encourages consumption of both. They waste less of the liquid feed, partly because when the pigs step back from the feeder, there’s less dry feed stuck to their mouth that can drop into the manure pit. The result is a 5% to 7% improvement in feed efficiency, says O’Mara. I decide on the spot that when given a range, I’m going to take the high end, in this case, 7% better feed efficiency. Great, one stop and I’ve saved seven percent of my feed bill.

Big "O" oscillating feeder, available at

Next stop is just across the aisle at the booth of IFA Roller Grinders of tiny Stanley, Iowa. Lee Drewelow of the company says his feed grinder is actually a roller mill, with two rolling drums that turn at different speeds and crush the corn into finer particles than the other kind of grinder, a hammermill. The finer particles (650 microns versus 1,000 for the hammermill) means there is less dust, less feed separation, and more efficient conversion in the pig’s gut. The sign on Drewelow’s booth says it saves 50 pounds of feed per pig finished. “We normally think it takes 10 bushels of corn to finish a pig, but we can reduce that to 9,” he says. By my math, that’s a 10% savings. Add that to the Feed Ease feeder, and our combined savings are now 17% — we’re getting there!

A little farther down the aisle is the display of Genetiporc, a breeding company that sells boars and gilts. Dr. Dan Hamilton, their technical services manager, tells me that they have a new terminal sire line that is bred just for feed efficiency. Combined with their most feed efficienct female line, the offspring will consistently use .15 pounds less feed per pound of gain than other genetics. In other words, if your current feed conversion is 2.75 pounds of feed per pound of gain, you might reduce that to 2.60 with Genetiporc’s G Performer boar, and it’s Fertilis 25 sow. That’s nearly a 6% gain in feed efficiency.

Add it up: We’re saving 23% of our feed now! No time to stop here.

Kevin Curry at Alpharma tells us about their BMD feed additive, active ingredient bacitracin antibiotic. It’s almost never used in humans, so this antibiotic gets less grief from those who worry about bacterial resistance from animal use. It’s typically used from 50 pounds to market weight at a low level to ward off harmful microbes, there’s no withdrawal period, and it will save 30-35 pounds of feed per hog with 3% better feed efficiency. Curry even finds a way to tout the “green” benefits of this product: “There’s less manure to spread.”

At Ralco Nutrition, national sales manager Tom Lattimore tells me about a feed ingredient product called EnMax, which lets them formulate pig feeds on net energy, using more crystalline amino acids and enzymes, less soybean meal (100-150 pounds less per ton), and more corn. Pigs get more energy from the feed, plus some enzymes that “unlock” all of the ingredients. “We can take a conventional feed, and with EnMax, save $30 to $40 per ton,” says Lattimore. “That’s $10 per pig.” Great, but what about improved feed efficiency? “We don’t really have any claims on that,” he says. Nuts, let’s keep moving.

Farther down, Olmix is a French company with a couple of products, one of which is a feed ingredient called MMi. This natural product promotes hygiene of the pig’s gut, explains Alain Reocreux, the international development manager. “When a pig eats, he not only gets the feed nutrients, he also gets some pathogens and toxins,” explains Reocreux. “MMi neutralizes those things in the gut, so he can make more efficient use of the nutrients.” Net result: 4% better feed efficiency, bringing our net gain to 30%. We’ve got a ways to go to get to complete feed-free pigs!

Now we’re outside the main exhibit hall, talking to Joe Slager of Key Dollar Manure Separator. This machine puts manure over a fine screen, which separates most of the bigger solids from the brown liquid. Slager tells me about one of their farmer customers in Illinois who feeds those screenings back to his gestating sows as 60% of their ration. That saves two pounds of feed per sow per day, 700 pounds per sow per year. Spread over the 20 pigs she produces, that’s a net gain of five percent in total feed efficiency.

Next, Scott Schneider of Aova Technologies tells me about his product, called, simply enough, Big Pig (their motto: Big is Better). Big Pig is a natural egg powder antibody that is added to nursery and finishing feeds at 1.5 pounds per ton. It targets an enzyme in the gut, which in turn reduces inflamation there to allow feed energy to go towards growth, he says. Their research shows a 3.5% improvement in feed efficiency. Since I don’t deal with decimal points, I round that up to four percent. Now we’re at 39% cumulative improvement in feed efficiency. Not even half way to 100%!

Now I’m hearing about MorindaMax, a feed additive for just-weaned pigs only and fed for those early weeks. Daryl Hammer gives me the brochure, which says: “MorindaMax’s active ingredient is Morinda citrifolia, which comes from the fruit of a tree native to the Pacific Region. Morinda c. consists of phytochemicals which are known to have protective or disease preventative properties.” OK, but what about the feed efficiency? The brochure says it gives 10% better efficiency in the nursery. I know that’s only for the short nursery period, but if I’m going to get to feed-free pigs, I’m going to have to cut some corners. Let’s just add it in, now we’re up to 49% improvement.

Feed Logic employees show me an incredible feed mixing machine that mounts on a ceiling rail inside a pig barn. That machine picks up feed ingredients at one end of the barn, than rolls along the rail to automatically dispense the feed into feeders in each pen. It mixes a slightly different feed formulation to each pen, depending on the size of the pig and the computer instructions that you, the operator, have given to it. In theory, this lets each pen of pigs get a different feed formulation each day as they grow up to market weight. Alas, I’m told that although this “smart” feeder saves $4 per pig in feed costs, they can’t show an improvement in feed efficiency.

At Lallemand Animal Nutrition, they tell me about their probiotic products, which promote the “good” bugs in a pig’s gut. They are getting ready to do a trial with one product, Bactocell, fed with distillers’ grains from ethanol plants. The Bactocell will help pigs better digest the fiber in the DDGs. They get a five-percent improvement in feed efficiency, bringing our net gain now up to 54%.

Schauer is an Austrian company that makes pig feeding equipment. One product is an individual sow feeder that, by reading an ear tag, feeds each animal exactly what you have programmed into the computer. It lets you house sows in a group situation, but feed them individually. Franz Bauer tells me that if I’m a poor manager (how did he peg me?), I can save at least 10% on sow feed. I know, that’s not the whole herd, it’s just the sow feed. Still, I’m going to add it in, and now we’re up to 64% better feed efficiency.

And we’re running out of options. I stop and visit with a half dozen companies that make automatic pig sorters. To get to the hog feeder, the pigs have to walk through a scales. Depending on their weight, it sorts them off into a feeder pen with just the right feed for their size. And when they’re big enough to sell, it puts them into yet another pen. The result is that pigs of various sizes can be kept in one big pen, and each gets just the feed he (or she) needs. In theory, this should give a good savings in feed efficiency, and keep pigs moving out to market before they get too big. But, nobody can give me hard (or even soft) numbers.
One more chance. There’s a booth at the far end of the exhibit hall, with nobody there. But it says it is the booth of the Northern Pulse Growers Association, promoting the feeding of peas. I pick up the brochure, and read the flyer called “Field Peas in Diets Fed to Swine.” Inside, it tells me that peas are about 23% crude protein, and higher in energy than soybean meal, almost nature’s perfect hog feed. Feeding peas rather than soybean meal might give a 3% boost to feed efficiency, it says. I’m going to add that, and get 67% improvement in feed efficiency, using all of these products that have been pitched.

Nope, hogs apparently won’t grow on air alone. It takes about two-thirds air, and one-third peas. Still, that’s not bad. You can now smugly tell your grain farmer neighbors, “If you think your corn is worth $6 a bushel, you can just keep it.”

Not every company with a booth or exhibit at the World Pork Expo in Des Moines this week claims that their product can save feed. But, a lot of them do.


To get more information on grain weight conversion, hog feeders, and hay feeders, please visit Barn World.

To get more information on cattle scalescattle guards, or saddle pads, please visit Barn World.

To get more information on bulk feed bins, livestock scales, and radiant under-floor heating, please visit Barn World.