Establishing the Weaned Piglet

Establishing piglets early to reduce pen variation is the key message from the BPEX Knowledge Transfer Farm Case Study 5. Successful changes were adjustments to the feeding regime, the addition of bite drinkers and additional lighting.
calendar icon 18 November 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

Farm Facts

Name: Poolfoot Ltd.
Location: Fylde, Lancashire, UK
Farm size and enterprise: 325-sow farrow-to-finish, indoors.


  • Less variation between piglets and pens
  • Fewer 'tail-enders'
  • Reduced labour requirement to prepare porridge, freeing up time for other activities.


At weaning, the piglet experiences multiple challenges and as a result daily liveweight gain can be reduced by up to 200g/day. There is evidence that growth rate during the first few weeks post-weaning is positively correlated with subsequent lifetime performance, it is therefore important to establish the weaner immdeiately to maintain growth rates and reduce pen variation.

The System

Piglet nutrition, facilities and procedures were reviewed. Following this, a number of modifications were made.

Bite drinkers were introduced to the weaner accommodation to provide additional water to that being supplied via the troughs.

Piglets are now fed porridge on day one post-weaning only, instead of twice a day for 3-4 days, which was time-consuming. Piglets are now fed less per feed but more often.

"The provision of additional drinkers seems to have helped piglets to establish more quickly after weaning, they are coping better with challenges and are more uniform."
Alison Newsham, farm manager

Key to Success

  • Soiled water troughs can deter piglets from drinking. By providing additional bite drinkers, a clean supply of water will be available at all times.
  • Feed can quickly become stale if it is left in the trough for long periods. By feeding less but more frequently, feed turnover is increased and freshness is maintained.
  • Using a new mobile light enables supplementary lighting to be provided where it is needed when it is needed.
  • Moving piglets during the pre-weaning period can disrupt suckling and growth rates. By constructing an additional farrowing annex, piglets can remain in their original pen with the sow throughout this period, reducing disruption, maximising weaning weights and minimising variation.

Lighting in the weaner accommodation has been improved, with a supplementary light now left on for 24 hours a day for the first seven days post-weaning. This encourages exploration by the piglets and as a result increases feed intake and growth. In addition, a new farrowing annex was constructed to provide extra space during busy farrowing periods. This means that there is less chance of litters having to be moved during the pre-weaning period, which would disrupt the piglets’ environment and feeding pattern.

November 2008
© 2000 - 2023 - Global Ag Media. All Rights Reserved | No part of this site may be reproduced without permission.