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Ben Williams

Knowledge Transfer Senior Manager

AHDB Pork Knowledge Exchange


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Milk supplementation using a milk line system

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Research partners: Harper Adams University College

Industrial partners: Volac, the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW)

Sponsors: AHDB Pork

Project duration: 2007-2008 

Aims and objectives

The objective of this project was to establish the benefits of the milk line system in a controlled scientific environment and provide producers with information of how it is best utilised. Three overall questions were addressed: 

  1. Do the benefits of the milk line stem from the availability of milk from the time of farrowing?
  2. Does the provision of liquid milk affect the creep intake or the sows milk output?
  3. What are the post weaning benefits of the milk line and is there an overall economic benefit of the system? 


  • The Milk Line system is easily managed and removes the need for early weaning alternatives by keeping piglets on the sow in the farrowing pen
  • The Milk Line system is cost effective and does not add to the work burden when compared to alternative methods of keeping poor doers alive.

When averaged across the two trials the payback period for the equipment would be 12 months; in situations where parity structure is older, then the payback period would be less than 12 months.

Extra performance pigs/litter




Capital cost of kit based on a single pump and 70 dispensers (£/farrowing pen) *




Marginal value of one extra pig at weaning




Cost of Milk (£ per litter)

£ 6.50

£ 6.50

£ 6.50

Labour (£/litter)




Payback time of equipment

24 months

12 months

6 months

* Assumes farm staff installation zero cost