Steps for Starting Newly Weaned Pigs Out Strong

Written by Tony Bohlke, Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

Getting pigs off to a good start is often over looked in many areas, from cleaning of the barn or facility, to proper nutrition. Following a few simple steps will help ensure the correct start to the young pigs.

  1. All feed from previous group should be removed from the feedlines and bulk bins.  Any amount of feed left and used on newly weaned pigs will be devastating to the pig. Even as little as 100 lbs. of old feed can affect a couple hundred pigs.
  2. The barn/facility should be thoroughly washed and DRIED at least 24 hours before pigs arrive.  In a case where time is limited to get the barns dry, use lime at the rate of 1 bag / 750 square feet to help in the process of getting barns dry.  This liming can also be used to help in barns where scours have been an issue in the past.
  3. All equipment needs to be washed and disinfected before pigs arrive. That includes panels, syringes, boots, gruel troughs, buckets, etc.  Give special attention to chutes and hallways, as they become the forgotten areas.
  4. All rooms should be warmed up 24 hours ahead of pig arrival.  All mats should be put into place and allowed to warm up as well.  In wean-to-finish barns, the brooders or supplemental heat source should be turned on ahead of pig arrival.
  5. Waterlines need to be flushed and cleaned at barn washing time and again right before the pigs arrive.  Fresh water is essential when the pigs show up at the site.
  6. Ventilation should be set and tested for proper operation and desired temperature.

Now that we are ready to receive new pigs, we can concentrate on the management practices to get them off to a good start. The first two weeks goes a long way into the performance of the pig all the way until market.  Proper care and nutrition can make as much as $10 to $15 per head at close out.

  1. Pigs should be sorted for size, leaving 10% to 15% of the pen space empty. The empty pig space will be used for pigs needing special attention the first few weeks. You can always fill space easier than you can make extra space once pigs are in.
  2. Place feeding mats in every pen and place gruel troughs in at least the small pig pen and the extra attention pens.  We should place small amounts of feed several times per day to the mats to help encourage eating. Freshly weaned pigs like to all eat at the same time. The same thing goes with the gruel troughs; they should get small amounts in them several times during the day. This also helps the caretaker find pigs that are not feeling well, or helps them to adjust to the transition to feed. (See attached the Mat Feeding and Gruel Feeding Recommendations)
  3. Any pigs that are not eating or feeling well should be treated accordingly and sorted to the recovery pen. Generally, in the first few days, the pigs that are not eating, are the pigs that are young (less than 18 days of age). Age is more important than size, so make sure to pull pigs, even in the big pig pens that begin to gaunt up.
  4. FLUSH THE MAIN WATER LINE until cool fresh water is felt.  Then while walking pens, make sure cool fresh water is at the nipple or the water pan. Doing this daily for the first 10 to 14 days increases water intake and in turn will increase feed intake.  In rooms that have a high set temperature, the main water lines will get as warm as the set point (80 degrees or higher). By flushing the main water line daily we provide much cooler water to the pigs.
  5. Plan on spending plenty of time the first 10 days with the pigs. (4 hours per day on a 1,200 head facility and 6 hours per day on 2,400 head facility would not be uncommon). Even with the easiest starting pigs, an hour a day will not get the job done.
  6. Make sure the pigs get the correct nutrition for their age and weight.  This is easy to say, but hard to achieve. With weight variations of 7 lbs. to 15 lbs. at incoming, along with a 7 to 14 day age spread, this becomes a serious issue.  In any case, feed to the younger, smaller end.  Making sure those pigs get there allotted amount of each ration.  If we cut the younger, smaller pigs short up front, they will be behind the entire feeding period.

 

KEY MANAGEMENT POINTS:

  1. Clean and DRY barn at incoming.
  2. Pre-heat the barn.
  3. Flush waterlines.
  4. Mat and gruel feed several times a day.
  5. Spend time with the pigs.
  6. Feed proper nutrition to age and weight of the pig.
  7. GIVE FRESH WATER DAILY.

 

If you are looking for tips on managing your newly weaned pigs, our Form-A-Feed swine team is here to help.  Contact your local Form-A-Feed representative to help you achieve your production goals.