Put weaned pigs on the feed intake fast track

May 15, 2023

End-of-nursery weights are the strongest predictor of finishing weights.1 Feed intake in the early nursery phase is closely tied to nursery performance, so how a pig responds to its first dry feed sets the pace for performance through finishing.

Weaned pigs need to eat multiple meals per day to consume enough nutrients for optimal growth, weight gain and gut function. Yet, on average, feed intake during the first 3-4 days after weaning is too low to meet the pig’s energy requirements for maintenance, let alone growth.2 This is due to multiple stressors on the pig, such as removal from the sow, transportation to the nursery and introduction to a new environment.

Reduced feed intake can also lead to a breakdown in the intestinal lining, creating a poor environment for beneficial microbes in the intestine and opening the door to illness. A sick pig’s immune system pulls energy from growth and maintenance to combat ailments. Even if the pig doesn’t get sick, poor gut function can impair appetite and reduce feed consumption, creating a downward spiral.

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