Influence of diet form (pellets or meal) on the optimal number of weaned pigs per feeding space
Martine Laitat, DVM; Marc Vandenheede, DVM, PhD; Alain D?siron, DVM; Bernard Canart, IE; Baudouin Nicks, DVM, PhD
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Objectives: To assess the influence of group size and diet form on performance and feeding behavior of weaned pigs and to determine an optimal number of pigs per feeding space for pellets or meal provided in a tube feeder.
Methods: During six consecutive trials, feeding behavior and performance of groups comprising 30 (G30), 40 (G40), or 50 (G50) weaned pigs were compared for 6 weeks after weaning. A tube feeder was used for all groups, delivering either pellets or meal (trough length 64 cm; two integrated drinkers).
Results: Mean ADG was 5% higher when pigs were fed pellets rather than meal (P = .06). Whatever the diet, ADG was lower in G50 than in G40 (P < .05). In groups fed meal, ADG was lower in G40 than in G30 (P < .001).
Average time using the feeder was 4.7 minutes per hour for pigs fed pellets, and 7.3 minutes per hour for pigs fed meal (P = .003). Overall feeder occupation rates during the day were 139 +/- 30% for meal and 93 +/- 21% for pellets (P = .01), and during the night, 91 +/- 33% for meal and 54 +/- 15% for pellets (P = .03), assuming 100% is four pigs eating simultaneously during the observation period.
Implications: Diet form influences the optimal number of pigs per feeder space. For the tube feeders in this study, the recommended maximum number of pigs per feeding space is 6.5 for pigs fed meal and 10.2 for pigs fed pellets.
Keywords: feeding space, diet form, weaned pigs, feeding behavior
Cite as: Laitat M, Vandenheede M, D?siron A, et al. Influence of diet form (pellets or meal) on the optimal number of weaned pigs per feeding space. J Swine Health Prod 2004;12(6):288-295.
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