The Feeding Strategy for Slaughter Pigs

By Livestock Knowledge Transfer, UK - This article is the third in the series from "Getting the best from your pigs" and looks at the nutritional requirements to maximise lean growth.
calendar icon 1 May 2003
clock icon 4 minute read

Feed is the largest cost element in the production of pigs for slaughter. It contributes some 75% to 80% of total costs and, therefore, the best use must be made of the feeds available, for maximising the lean growth of the pigs. Providing the best feeding strategy for your slaughter pigs could make a difference of up to £2.50 per pig (MLC 1998).


  • Pigs’ requirements for energy and protein for efficient lean growth change over time as they grow
  • The requirement for protein in relation to energy decreases very slightly on a daily basis
  • Theoretically the most efficient way to feed pigs is to offer them a slightly different diet every day (Phase feeding)
  • Phase feeding is not a practical option on most units so a compromise needs to be made between supplying one diet for the whole of the finishing period and supplying a different diet on each day
  • Stage feeding is more practical when two, three or four diets are fed between 30kg and slaughter

Disadvantages of feeding only 1 diet from 30Kg to slaughter

  • Younger pigs require a higher protein to energy ratio than is present in the feed so lean growth falls below potential
  • Older pigs require a lower protein to energy ratio than is present in the feed so protein is wasted

Advantages of stage feeding from 30Kg to slaughter

  • The lean gain of younger pigs, with limited appetite, can be maximised with a higher density diet
  • Cheaper, lower density diets can be fed to older pigs without compromising their growth
Approximate weight (Kg) Approximate age (weeks) Energy to protein ratio (D.E : Lysine)
30-45 10-14 0.90-0.95
45-60 14-17 0.85-0.90
60-90 17-22 0.75-0.85

Implementing 3 or 4 stage feeding system on farms - General principles


  • Easy to apply on “all in/all out” e.g. multi site systems where pigs are of similar age and weight
  • More feed bins may be necessary on some farms, especially with continuous production systems. Smaller delivery loads may result in feed costing more, per tonne, delivered. Discuss at the outset with your feed supplier
  • Ensure bins are adequately labelled to ensure both delivery and farm staff are aware of which feed is stored in which bin. This is essential with in-feed medication

Dry Feeding


  • Batch systems, in which there are sufficient numbers of pigs to warrant all being fed from one bin which is regularly filled i.e. once per week. Simply agree reduction in nutrient density on perhaps every other load delivered with your feed supplier (equivalent to 10 kg weight bands)
  • Continuous production with pigs of specific age/weights in different buildings require separate bins for each stage e.g. 30-60kg, 60-100kg
  • If pigs of different weight and age are in same building, arrange for pigs to remain within their own age/weight group but gradually move along the building each week, each end of the building supplied by perhaps two separate feed lines fed by different bins

Wet feeding

  • Modern wet feeding equipment is capable of delivering diets of different nutrient balance to specific pens of pigs. This can be pre-set onto the feeding computer from day 1, according to a feed growth curve, preferably derived from on-farm performance data
  • Batch mixing tanks allow different feed mixtures to be fed to pigs of different age/weight, usually in different buildings
  • Additional products of different nutrient density may be required to produce a range of diets fed at different stages. This may in turn create the need for additional storage tanks. Ensure keeping quality and ease of handling are not adversely affected with smaller quantities

Source: Livestock Knowledge Transfer - First published 2001. Added to this site 2003.

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