Why Dont Pig Producers Weigh Their Weaning Pigs?

UK - Why don't pig producers weigh their weaners? This is a question posed by Dr Mike Varley.
calendar icon 9 January 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Weaning weight is the most important parameter determining post-weaning performance says Dr Mike Varley. Picture shows an SCA technician working on the company's research farm in the USA.

"Weaning weight is the most important parameter determining post-weaning performance, including feed intake. It is a mystery to me that, despite its importance, very few farms actually measure it," he said.

Pigs with a high weaning weight get a good start. They begin eating and drinking from Day 1 after weaning and these 'early-bite' piglets are the ones that never look back, he explained.

Writing in "Technical Update" the electronic newsletter for the UK-based pig-breeding company ACMC, Dr Varley, who is research and technical services manager of SCA Nutec, said that as a result of selection pressure over the last 40 years piglets had exceptional ability for lean tissue growth.

They may have the potential capacity to eat six times their maintenance requirements for energy and protein. "Some genotypes may have the best genetic configuration in the world for growth and the best health status. But if they don't eat they don't grow. So we have to make it easy for the piglet during this critical phase."

The problem is that before weaning the piglet receives its nutrients including water as a single package - milk. It is then expected to make a sudden change to two packages - the Stage 1 starter creep and water, via a separate delivery system.

The type, number and location of the drinkers, their flow-rate and height are all critical to the piglet, as is water quality where, suggested Dr Varley, the question to ask is: 'Would you drink from this delivery system?'

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