EW Nutrition Seminars – Pig management and farm profitability

In 2020/21 EW Nutrition ran four seminars on pig management and farm profitability.

The seminars featured globally recognised nutritionalists and pig science experts who delivered concise and informative information on critical research that helps both industry and individual producers.

The first was delivered on December 17, 2020, by Chantal Farmer, an established author in the field of pig science (ThemSuckling and Weaner Piglet – Wageningen Academic Publishers).

Chantal is from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada QC.

Chantal Farmer, Research Scientist, Agri-Food Canada QC

‘Managing sows for optimum colostrum yield and piglet survival’
was her topic.

Aiming to prolong the colostral phase using oxytocin was the strategy she discussed revealing materials and methodology and results of using same.

“The ingestion of 250g of colostrum by a piglet of average (1.4kg) bodyweight (BW) significantly reduces the risk of pre-weaning mortality, provides a source of passive immunity and allows for BW gain of piglets,” she stated in commencing her paper.

Her conclusions were “that ingesting 250g of colostrum is essential for the survival and growth of newborn piglets but the amount of colostrum produced by sows is very variable,” she explained.

“The sow limits the amount of colostrum ingested by piglets and numerous other factors affect colostrum production including genetic considerations, hormonal manipulations and management,” Chantal concluded.

The second seminar was delivered by Oceane Schmitt (University of Bristol and University of Vienna), a scientist who has published extensively on animal behaviour, welfare and growth performance and was called ‘Management strategies to improve piglets’ survival’.

Oceane Schmitt, University of Bristol and University of Vienna

“Pig farm economics are simply driven by the number of pigs sold per year,” Oceane stated.

“It is not possible to shorten the gestation period (for biological reasons) or to shorten the lactation period for both biological and legal reasons.

“There are limited opportunities to shorten the fattening period as genetic selection for fast growth rates and lean mean percentage are reaching their optimum,” Oceane explained.

Her conclusions after detailing strategies to improve piglet survival were “that large litters remain a
challenge and that there is no optimal ‘one for all’ solution.

“Efforts should be made to select the best maternal traits and piglet robustness,” she advised.

Seminar three, delivered on February 25, 2021 by Dr Mike Tokach, (Kansas State University) who was named by ‘The National Hog Farmer’, as one of the 50 most influential people in the swine sector in the last half century.

 ‘Feeding the suckling pig: creep feeding’, was his topic.

“Creep feeding provides an opportunity to improve weaning weight and post weaning performance. A 25 day old pig at weaning may not gain increased significant weaning weight but will gain improved performance,” Dr Tokach said.

“Key factors that influence the percentage of pigs that consume feed include, creep feed diet complexity, pellet size, the feeder design and the duration of creep feed provision. 

Dr Mike Tokach, Kansas State University

“What is the goal of creep feeding?“ Dr Tokach asked.

“The goal is to augment sow milk production, which often becomes limited during early to mid lactation.

“Sows need to produce at least 18kg of milk per day to meet the energy requirements of a 10 pig litter at 21 days of age, which is greater than the typical production of 10 to 12 kg of milk
typically produced by modern sows.

“Protein content of sow milk may also be a limiting factor for piglet growth rate (as revealed by John Pluske in a 1995 report).

“Protein to energy ratio in sow milk is lower than needed to maximise neonatal pig growth. 

“Thus, in theory, a creep diet with high amino acid content should augment the sow increasing litter weight gains while reducing metabolic demands on the sow,” he explained. 

Dr Tokach’s concluding thoughts and advice on creating better ‘eaters’ were to establish “complex high quality diets to create more eaters, and larger pellets are better than small pellets”.

“Feeders with storage that keeps feed fresh is superior to an open feeder and positioning feeders at  the front of the crate may be better than the back of the crate.”

On duration of creep feed provision, “2 to 3 days may be sufficient with young weaner ages but longer duration will increase consumption,” Dr Tokach concluded.

The final seminar in the series, was delivered on March 24, 2021 by Francesc Molist. A veterinarian and nutritionalist, Francesc joined Schothorst Feed Research as a researcher and consultant in 2011 and since 2017 has lead the research group.

Schothorst Feed Research provides consulting services in animal nutrition in more than 22 countries which represents a total of 10% of the world’s feed production.

“The role of the gastrointestinal microbiome and application to the industry’ was his topic.

Francesc Molist, Schothorst Feed Research

“The gut is the gatekeeper of health,” Francesc stated in introducing his paper.

“Factors influencing gut health include gender, vaccination, stress, genetic, weaning, age, pathogens, the sow, rearing environment, diet and antibiotics,” he said.

His take home messages on pre-weaning (a critical part of his report) were on colostrum in the first 24 hours, focus on developing microbiota and inate immune system. 

“Milk replacer, creep feed and sow milk were all of critical importance in the first three weeks of life,” he said.

“Focus on having a robust GIT (gastrointestinal tract) and preparing the piglets for the weaning period in week four and post weaning diet in week six was vital,” he added.

Post weaning strategies in the acute and maturation phases (-5 to +21-35 days) were next summarised in
Francesc’s ‘take home messages’.

“Acute phase (-5/+5-10 days) focus on GIT health by lowering crude protein (CP), adding functional Amino Acids (AA) lowering fermentable carbohydrates fCHO and increasing inert
carbohydrates (iCHO) and consider 20% particles >1.4mm in feed content,” he advised.

“In the maturation phase +10-21 days, keep health and improve (weight gain (ADG).

“Recommended is a higher Lys/NE ratio, higher CP and low ABC-4, medium levels of both fCHO and iCHO – consider 20% particles > 1.4 mm.

“Following, in the growth/finish period, the lysine to net energy ratio becomes important. Also the U/S ratio: use higher levels of fCHO and lower use of iCHO,” Francesc concluded.

The seminars were introduced by Philipe Barbosa, EW’s Partners in Progress and Global Team Leader for swine.

All the speakers in the four seminar series are internationally recognised experts in their field of speciality and scientists at the top of their game. 

Their advice on improving pig productivity, welfare and profitability is a vital resource for pig producers
everywhere and in particular Australia and New Zealand. 

For those who either missed the original seminars on the dates delivered in 2020/21, or want to revisit the
webinars, Dr Merideth Parke (EW’s South East Asia Pacific Regional Technical manager ANZ, swine), is the contact point for vimeos and other information on the webinar series.

Her email address is merideth.parke@ew-nutrition.com and mobile is +61 455661844.