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The importance of nutrition for a profitable and healthy finish

Beth Austermuhle, Head of Technical, supporting Farmgate Feeds outlines how nutrition can support pigs’ health and growth at the finishing stage.

There is a huge amount of emphasis around the importance of sow and piglet nutrition leading into the growing stage, but far less on the valuable impact good quality nutrition can make at the finishing stage. This article looks at the importance of finishing feeds and how they can support good growth and efficient feed conversion, which can make all the difference to the pigs’ grading and carcase price. 

Like humans, pigs need comfort and shelter, as well as access to fresh water and a healthy diet to support good health. In their natural environment pigs will eat little and often, foraging for all the vital nutrients they require. Complete ration feeds are developed to provide your pigs with this optimum balance of nutrients, and formulated for each of the different stages of their lives for maintenance, growth, reproduction, lactation, and other functions.

The early finishing stage is one of rapid lean growth. Nutrition will support this growth and encourage the production of lean uniform meat whilst avoiding excess fat deposition. Providing the feed in pelleted form helps to reduce feed wastage and the ground ingredients within the pellets increases the surface area and helps improve nutrient absorption.

Tailoring a pig’s diet to different stages ensures optimal health and performance but also reduces waste and environmental damage
Tailoring a pig’s diet to different stages ensures optimal health and performance but also reduces waste and environmental damage

Farmgate Feeds Pig Rearer is a highly palatable finishing feed designed to provide the pig with the optimum balance of nutrients for healthy growth and to maximise lean meat deposition. The feed contains high levels of digestible nutrients, a balanced mix of cereal and protein ingredients and an optimum grist profile for a good gut health. The finely balanced combination provides pigs with the energy they require at this crucial stage of growth. Tailoring a pig’s diet to their different life stages and requirements is the most cost-effective strategy for producers as the pigs are getting the nutrients, they need to support them throughout.  It can be just as easy to oversupply nutrients as to undersupply which can compromise growth and profitability; talk to your feed advisor to ensure your feeding routine is tailored your pig’s life stage.

Looking at the importance of establishing a routine, missing meals can account for lost growth during the finishing stage. Often it is assumed that if a meal is missed then a pig will ‘make up for it’ at their next feeding time. Unfortunately, this is not always the case so wherever possible try and adopt a twice daily routine for feeding. With this feeding pattern, your pigs should come to you with a healthy appetite, and you can be safe in the knowledge that they are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals required.

Whilst finely balanced nutrition at this finishing stage is critical for efficient feed conversion, we should also remember that a feed will have the most effective results when we support a pig’s overall wellbeing. Some of the things to look out for when assessing their overall health are; well-formed stools, good body condition, a healthy appetite and moving around freely and comfortably. Adding interest to the pigs environment through plastic balls, tyres and straw can help mimic their natural environment by encouraging rooting, foraging, and exploring.

Farmgate Feeds Pig Rearer for the finishing stage, can be fed from 8 weeks of age, following on from the Sow and Weaner range. By starting your piglets on the Sow & Rearer nuts and rolls you are giving them the best foundation for healthy growth. The added Omega 3 brings many benefits to a sow and her piglets, as well as the pig producer too. Omega 3 fatty acids are involved in the structure and growth of all cells in the animal and as result, there is good evidence to support the important role it has in contributing to healthy litter sizes and weaning weights. By encouraging a strong start and a healthy weaning weight, a more efficient growth and feed conversion will occur during the next four weeks post-weaning, supported by a finely balanced grower/finisher feed.

Tailoring a pig’s diet to different stages ensures optimal health and performance but also reduces waste and environmental damage. It is the most cost-effective strategy because the typically more expensive diets, such as those fed to weaner pigs, are only fed when required. More importantly, it ensures that your pigs get the correct nutritional balance that they need for healthy growth and a profitable finish.