Does Feeder Type Really Matter?

Monday, February 20, 2012

by Dr. Elizabeth Magowan | pigprogress.net

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.

Summary

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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