Studies Show Avoiding Limited Intake Days (LID) Has Positive Impact
**** This article was included in a mailer last fall and confirms the importance of feed intake at key moments in a sow's reproductive cycle. That message is worth repeating!
Today’s research has brought advancements in genetics that have resulted in stronger animals able to produce and sustain larger litters. However, feed delivery practices have not kept pace with these genetics. Too often, sows and gilts are not getting the proper amount of nutrition when needed. These Low Intake Days (LID) negatively impact the overall condition of the animal and create operational losses through reductions in sow productivity, longevity and feed waste.
On-site trials that have provided ad-lib feeding for newly introduced gilts and sows, pre breed and in lactation, revealed a significant link between the daily nutritional needs of the animals and what is lacking in current feeding practices.
“A sow that produces 50 pigs in a lifetime versus 30 has a huge advantage for being able to have a reduced cost of each pig going out the door,” said Dr. Paul Armbrecht, a veterinarian from Lake City, Iowa with over 40-years swine experience. “Allowing these animals to determine when they feed has been proven to increase Parity 1 performance, reduce the replacement rate, bring gilts back to full feed on day one, get sows back into metabolic mode and recovering faster after farrowing; thus being able to produce more litters over their lifetime.”
Dave Klocke, owner/operator of Klocke Farms, Inc., and founder of PigEasy, LLC, believes the industry is shifting toward this long-term look at the productivity of the animal over their entire lifetime. Currently, pigs per sow per year is the measure for performance of the entire herd. The reality is, according to Klocke, that a better benchmark is pigs per sow per lifetime.
“Pigs per sow per year is not necessarily the most profitable, Klocke explained. “This individual animal is an investment, and because of LID, there are a lot of young females who do not get beyond P1 or P2 because they don’t consume enough feed at critical periods in their reproductive cycle. The sow doesn’t perform well. It is not her fault, it is a failure of the system to feed her properly by giving her all the feed she needs at the right time to achieve her genetic potential.”
Almost every producer, even the most experienced, knows that providing optimal feed intake is an issue, and until now, it has simply been treated as a matter of course. To address this, Klocke, through PigEasy, has designed and created the MealMeter feeding device. The MealMeter allows the animal to have access to feed on demand. He has put the MealMeter into his sow farm, and has seen a dramatic change since implementation.
“Our sow farm is now pushing 60 pigs per sow per lifetime,” Klocke said. “Industry average is probably under 40. Prior to utilizing the MealMeter, we achieved 50, and I was happy with that. Sixty pigs per sow per lifetime is not something we are driving for, it is just happening with a reduction in LIDs.”
|The above Klocke Farm records compare
6 months of conventional drop feeding to
P1 pre-breed gilts vs. 6 months using the
MealMeter feeding device. There were no
other changes to the gilts’ diet or management.
With the use of the MealMeter, Klocke begins ad-lib feeding with the introduction of the gilt to the operation pre breed and continues it with lactating sows, weaned sows and passed or late weaned sows. “When gilts are moved into a sow operation for breeding/ production, the general thought is that the gilts go off feed because they are getting used to the individual maternity pen,” he noted. “What I have found, is these animals are used to eating in a finisher setting, where they consume smaller amounts ad-lib throughout the day. When we put them in individual maternity pens, they don’t know how to eat in a setting where they are dropped feed once or twice a day and expected to consume it in a short period of time, before it becomes stale or the water washes their ration down the trough.”
Likewise, in lactation, if the sow is not ready to eat when the ration drops, feed will build up and cause spoilage, thus creating more LIDs. According to a recent article on Benchmark.Farms.com, by Dr. Jerry Torrison, Mark E. Wilson and Zach Rambo, what happens during the final stage of the reproductive process can have a major impact on sow retention.
“Lactation is one of the most energetically expensive and challenging activities a female can undertake,” they wrote. “Therefore, feed consumption is critical during lactation. Anil et al., (2006) reported that sows consuming < 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) of feed per day during the first two weeks of lactation were more likely to be removed from the herd before their next parity. The odds of removal were highest for sows that did not consume any feed during any single day for the first 14 days of lactation. The bottom line from this study is, ‘if sows don’t eat in lactation, they are going to leave the farm.’”
The authors also reported that a reduction in LIDs resulted in reduced weight loss, increased weight gain for the litter and decreased likelihood of a prolonged wean to estrus interval by 42 percent for each kg of increase in the average daily feed intake.
Ron Ketchem and Mark Rix of Swine Management Services in Fremont, Neb. point to ad-lib feeding as a necessity in a June article in National Hog Farmer. They answer the question, “What are the top 32 farms doing to be at 30+ pigs?”
“In lactation, they know that nursing sows need to be able to eat all the feed they want as soon as they are done farrowing and also concentrate on feeding extra feed from weaning to breeding in order to improve body condition, farrowing rate and total pigs born in the next litter.”
With retention, productive days per year and litter sizes being the most important factors to the overall economic success of a farrowing operation, more and more producers are learning how to optimize the genetic benefits of their animals.
“There has been a lot of industry focus in recent decades on feed efficiency in the grow/finish sector,” Klocke said. “But, not a lot of time has been spent talking about feed efficiency on the sow farm. With feed being a major input cost, it requires our attention. The ability to use the MealMeter to allocate the feed where it is needed the most, without concern of waste, is going to be a major benefit in both sow reproductive performance and the overall economics of swine operations.”
For more information on the MealMeter feeding device and its accompanying products, visit https://pigeasy.com/pigeasy-products/mealmeter/.