Reduce variability and improve the efficiency of pig production systems
Anne Huting - Newcastle University
Duration - 2014 - 2017
Anne is Dutch and completed her MSc in Animal Science in 2014 at the Wageningen University with the specialisation Animal Nutrition.
Project Aims and Objectives
" This project intends to find intervention strategies that reduce weight variability within pig herds and by doing so to improve the efficiency of UK production systems. The project will develop strategies that will enable lightweight pigs to catch up with their heavier weight counterparts. These management strategies should be economically profitable. In more detail, we aim to find a specific management strategy that allow small pigs to catch up in growth during different stages of production consequently reducing body weight (BW) variation at slaughter. These management strategies may either increase weaning weight or improve post-weaning performance. We will use two management strategies: the first one would be to group separately pigs at different time points (e.g. birth, weaning) so that they will be given the opportunity to grow in the absence of competition from the heavy pigs. The second strategy would be to feed small pigs with specialist feeds suited for their needs."
Potential Benefit to Industry
The main beneficiaries of the research would be pig farmers who would benefit from the application of cost-effective treatments that aim to reduce the variability in pig live weight on farm and improve the production efficiency of their operations.
Progress to Date
The AHDB and Primary Diets-funded research at the University of Newcastle has found that small piglets that are short and stocky (high BMI) at birth express a higher growth rate pre-weaning than small piglets born long and thin (low BMI).
The research suggests that it is important to increase weaning weight for piglets that are long at thin at birth, for example by cross-fostering, and to focus post-weaning on piglets born disproportionate and weaned small.
The research also showed that pigs of <1.25kg at birth benefited from being segregated with others that are similarly small (but that bigger pigs do not benefit from being sized in the farrowing house in the absence of specific tailored management).
Although creep feed provision was unable to improve pre-weaning performance, piglets that consumed creep feed in high quantities were able to catch up growth pre-weaning. Piglets that were most likely to eat creep feed were piglets born heavy, in uniform litters and piglets that had a poor performance during early lactation.