The importance of maintaining good quality nutrition for pigs

Sam Bradley, Pig Technical & Commercial Advisor, supporting Farmgate Feeds outlines how nutrition can support pigs’ health and growth

Smallholder Feeds
Smallholder Pig
NFU countryside pig nutrition

These are particularly challenging times for the UK pig sector with the impacts of Brexit and Covid having far-reaching impacts on supply chains, dramatically impacting business viability for small scale producers. Although times are difficult, the industry is rallying together to navigate a path forward ensuring that we focus on what we can to achieve the best possible results. Nutrition plays an important part in this, and even though it is one of the biggest expenses in pig production you may sacrifice growth and performance if you cutback and opt for a low-quality feed. In this article, we’ll explain the crucial impact nutrition can have in supporting the best returns for your business.

Ensuring our piglets get off to the best start in life begins with optimising sow nutrition, before they are even pregnant. Omega 3 has a positive impact on pig fertility and will encourage your piglet’s strong health long before they are born. Without sufficient Omega 3, the potential number of piglets born may not be reached and sows can deliver piglets of variable weights, less viable piglets with a slower growth rate and piglets that are more susceptible to disease.

Optimising sow nutrition during late gestation and throughout the transition period can boost the key proteins found in the sow’s colostrum. Good quality colostrum will kick start the piglet’s immune system and helps to prevent disease susceptibility. Continuing supply of Omega 3 throughout the lactation period will also ensure the piglets grow steadily and healthily. By giving your piglets a strong start alongside promoting good quality milk production you can also expect to see heavier weights at weaning.

Omega 3 plays an essential role in piglet development from the onset. It is well documented that Omega 3 improves embryo development as well as sow’s milk quality. This, in turn, leads to increased litter size, heavier birthweights, heavier weaning weights, less mortality and overall healthier and more viable piglets.

By encouraging a strong start and a healthy weaning weight, a more efficient growth and feed conversion will occur post-weaning, supported by a finely balanced rearer feed from around 8 weeks of age. Young weaners and growing pigs should be offered unlimited feed wherever possible. A good quality rearing pellet should be highly palatable and designed to provide the pig with the optimum balance of nutrients for healthy and efficient growth.

As your pigs reach the early finishing stage this is a period of rapid lean growth. Good quality nutrition will support this growth and encourage the production of lean uniform meat whilst avoiding excess fat deposition. A pelleted feed helps to reduce feed wastage and is made up of ground ingredients which increases the surface area and helps improve nutrient absorption.

Tailoring a pig’s diet to their different life stages and requirements is the most cost-effective strategy for producers. No matter the size of your business, your pigs still require the same nutritional attention and by focusing on it you will be supporting healthy growth rates and the best possible returns at finish.