Evaluation of pig liquid feeding systems

The research team: (L-R) Paul McMullen (AFBI, Hillsborough), Mr Jim Wright (JMW Farms Ltd), Dr Elizabeth Magowan (AFBI, Hillsborough), Dr Rosanna Wregor and Miss Aishling O'Connell (JMW Farms) and Dr Wallace Henry (Rektify Ltd).
The research team: (L-R) Paul McMullen (AFBI, Hillsborough), Mr Jim Wright (JMW Farms Ltd), Dr Elizabeth Magowan (AFBI, Hillsborough), Dr Rosanna Wregor and Miss Aishling O'Connell (JMW Farms) and Dr Wallace Henry (Rektify Ltd).
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Over the past three years, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), JMW Farms and Rektify Ltd have been examining best practice within liquid feed systems for sows and growing pigs, writes Elizabeth Magowan, Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Hillsborough.

The research studies have identified a number of opportunities, but also some constraints in implementing liquid feed systems.

Many large pig producers across Ireland have adopted liquid feeding systems due to their ability to incorporate co-products from the food and drink manufacturing industries. The incorporation of these co products can reduce the cost of pig feed. However, very little is known about the impact of liquid feeding systems on pig performance and whether their use in pig production is economically beneficial or not.

Over the past three years a programme of research, co-funded by the DARD Research Challenge Fund, has focused on the use of co-products in dry and lactating sow diets and grower pig diets. The use of liquid feeding from weaning has also been investigated. The collaborative team undertaking this work involved AFBI in partnership with JMW Farms and Rektify Ltd. The project has utilised the unique sow and growing pig facilities on one of the JMW Farms, which was specifically designed to enable the completion of research trials.

Key results from the research studies include:

- 10% whey permeate can be included in the diet of lactating sows with no detrimental effect on litter wean weight;

- High levels (50%) of co-product can be included in the diet of gestating sows with no detrimental effect on litter sizes born BUT lactation feed intake could be negatively affected if the co-product used contains a high level of fibre;

- 10% whey permeate can be included in the diet of growing pigs in stage 2 but 20% whey permeate inclusion could reduce intake;

- However the use of 10% whey permeate along with 10% yeast can maintain animal performance;

- Whilst a change in housing from stage 1 to stage 2 can increase pig feed ‘disappearance’, the subsequent change in diet to one containing raw feed ingredients reduces intake. Given these two factors, the current practice being adopted is to change diet on the same day that pigs move from stage 1 to stage 2 accommodation:

The optimum level of starter 1 diet was found to be 2kg/pig (approximately 10 days) and for starter 2 was 6kg/pig (approximately 9 Days);

- Liquid feeding the starter 1 and starter 2 diets in stage 1 resulted in a poor feed conversion ratio, compared with when these diets were offered in dry form from dry multi space feeders.

Dr Rosanna Wregor, JMW Farms’ research manager, comments that “being able to conduct all these trials in a robust scientific manner has helped JMW Farms adopt different practices with confidence. Furthermore, working with AFBI Hillsborough staff has been of great benefit to the project since they have brought scientific rigour balanced with commercial reality and an enthusiasm to help grass root producers.”