Source: Gareth Salmond, Meadow Feeds, photo credit: Meadow
To achieve the best performance in finisher pigs, whether for the best gain or the best efficiency, you need the best practices to raise healthy and strong finisher pigs to the market. For the best results, environment and farm management are critical to maximise the effectiveness of sound nutritional practices.
Monitor feed allocation
Make sure your feeding program fits in with your current weight category and genetics as closely as possible. Inaccurate diets or incorrect feeding levels, decreases feed efficiencies and increases costs. Consider the number of feeding phases and the option of split-sex feeding to further increase feed efficiency. Both of these techniques can improve the accuracy of your rations and increase your production efficiencies.
In an effort to reduce feed wastage, feeders should be checked and adjusted daily. 30 – 50% of the feeding trough should contain feed to ensure sufficient feed availability. Feeders should be cleaned regularly to prevent mold growth as a potential cause of mycotoxins. The general feeder space recommendation is 2,54 cm per pig up to 27kg and 5,1 cm per pig to market weight. Single space dry feeders should allow a maximum of 10 pigs per space.
Check water flow and quality often
When water quantity or quality is insufficient, feed intake and growth rate of pigs may be reduced and incidence of disease increased. Water management considerations are often overlooked and include the following:
• Testing the water quality at least once per year for bacterial load, mineral levels and pH.
• Regular water pressure checks.
• Monitoring water intake as a health tool.
• Using the correct nipple height, size and number for each pen.
Eliminate feed outages
Pigs are susceptible to feed disruptions, which will significantly impact the efficiency of feed utilisation. The occurrence of feed outages needs to be eliminated whenever possible.
The only period when feed withdrawal should be considered, is when removing feed from pigs 12-18 hours prior to when the pigs are scheduled to be slaughtered. This management technique can save on feed usage and improve carcass quality.
*This information was adapted from the Finisher Production Manual, 2017, by Cargill Animal Nutrition, a technical support advisor of Meadow Feeds. For more information contact Gareth.Salmond@meadowfeeds.co.za