Tracking Feeder Pig Performance - Part Two

John Maltman, Swine Specialist

Feeding the pig to heavier weights will benefit from a phase four ration. This is the lowest energy and amino acid level of all the rations. The animal is reaching a mature stage and is not growing quickly. Females would normally begin the reproduction part of their life and be on a restricted feed intake eating a low energy ration. In this phase for short periods of time supplemental calcium and phosphorous can be reduced or completely removed. No adverse effects on the pigs are observed and substantial savings can be achieved. Each ration phase is allowing for a variety of intakes within the group. It is designed to deliver a specific level of intakes of dietary nutrients on a daily basis.

Weighing a sample of pigs in each phase over winter and summer will yield a growth curve for your specific barn environment and herd health status. Monitoring the days to target weights and feed consumed will allow the producer to intercept any decline in performance and take remedial steps before suffering the full impact of an undetected feed problem, disease outbreak or change in herd genetics.

Each tonne of feed manufactured should be recorded by type and destination. Take inventory of pigs by weight class. It should be done weekly to begin with ensuring weights are recorded prior to a ration change. A simple spreadsheet can collect and analyse data according to pre-set parameters. Some simple formulas will calculate daily consumption, average daily gain, and cost per pound of gain by phase. Eventually, weighing needs only be done prior to a ration change to confirm that pigs are on target for the farm growth curve. Changes in rations become time driven once the initial weights are calculated.

Benefits of tracking feeder pig performance by phase are:

  1. Allows calculation of cost/lb gain and a quick evaluation of cost/benefit of going to heavier weights.
  2. Allows development of a growth curve to predict or intercept any negative change in production conditions.
  3. Progress on the farm sometimes follows a wave motion rather than a straight line. Feeding programs need to reflect this in order to maintain indexes.

Benefits of tracking feeder pig performance