SowMAX Key to Increasing Feed Consumption

A move to 21-day weaning along with an increasing born live sent Great Lake Pork, headquartered in Allendale, Michigan, in search of the best method for ad-lib feeding in farrowing.
calendar icon 24 January 2017
clock icon 3 minute read


“Improved sow genetics resulted in more pigs farrowed plus we wanted to boost pig weights by weaning later. We needed to push more feed to the sows and increase consumption,” commented Great Lakes Pork partner Joel Phelps.

After trialing several different feeder and water combinations, Great Lake Pork settled on Hog Slat’s SowMAX with a floor mounted cup waterer.

“We feel the stainless steel SowMAX dispensers are more durable and easier to install on the different feed bowls in our system. The sow activated trigger mechanism is more reliable than models incorporating plastic balls or electronic timers, ” said Phelps.

“We have barns where the ad-lib hoppers are hand-filled and those with automated delivery systems; the results are the same, one just requires a little more labor. We fill the feeder starting on day one and let the sow have all the feed she wants. That’s the beauty of ad-lib, there’s no guessing like with hand-feeding, sows eat as individuals when they are ready.

“Although we don’t weigh individual litters, we know the sows are milking well, and they are doing it without losing body weight. They are coming out of the farrowing houses in very good condition which helps in the breeding barn.”

Joel concluded, “As soon as we finished the trial and decided on the equipment, we made the switch across the entire system - 18 sow farms in all. That was over three years ago and we’ve never regretted it. It has been a good decision for us.”

Sarah Mikesell


Sarah Mikesell grew up on a five-generation family farming operation in Ohio, USA, where her family still farms. She feels extraordinarily lucky to get to do what she loves - write about livestock and crop agriculture. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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