Post-weaning Feed Intake Target For Piglets
It is time to re-evaluate our feed intake target for the first week post-weaning for modern piglets raised in above-average facilities.
Let's start with 19 to 23 days of weaned piglets, in other words, a typical 3 week old weaned piglet. Before weaning, this piglet consumes about 1 kilogram of sow milk per day - assuming that the sow is able to produce the highest capacity. This milk contains 25% solids and grows an average of 250 grams per day (approximately 1:1).
Without exposure to pre-weaning creep feeds and typical average weaned weaning diets, the piglets will now consume no more than 50 grams in the 2nd to 3rd days.On average, the first week after weaning. Again, assuming (incorrect, but it's commercial specification) a 1:1 feed conversion rate, we can't expect a daily growth of more than 150 grams in this critical week.
Now, we all know that the higher the feed intake in the first week after weaning, the better the overall growth performance. The difference between 50 and 100 grams per day in the first week after weaning can be reduced within a full week of reaching market age! However, how can we improve post-weaning feed intake?
First, we must invest in high-quality creep feeds and implement the necessary management. Second, the same or even better feeds and necessary feed management techniques should be used in the first week after weaning.
Although the piglets consumed 300 grams of feed per day within the first week after weaning, their genetic potential was not exhausted. Today, proper use of a good diet can support daily intakes of 200 to 250 grams. But our goal should not be just this. It is possible to reach or even exceed 300 grams, but now I think that this number is enough. Whether this target/performance can be rewarded depends on the return on investment, which is related to benchmark performance, price, and cost, but this is important for another discussion.