By K-State Applied Swine Nutrition Team: Joel DeRouchey, Fangzhou Wu, Mike Tokach, Bob Goodband, Steve Dritz and Jason Woodworth
The pigs have been marketed, but there’s still a little finishing feed left in the bin. What’s a producer to do? In wean-to-finish pig production systems, this is one of many feed management challenges producers face. The precision of budgeting finisher feed based on predicted feed intake and closeout dates is not perfect. Because of this, the feed remaining in bins must be managed in one of the following ways.
1. Remove feed from the bins and transport off-site.
This practice is time-consuming and expensive (approximately $80 per ton in transportation and labor costs) if the feed is disposed of and not fed. While some producers recover feed and transfer to another site/group of pigs, this poses a biosecurity risk some producers are not willing to accept.
2. Provide the leftover feed to the next group of pigs.
In a wean-to-finish barn, the next group is, unfortunately, weanling pigs. In this case, leftover finisher feed is often held and blended into the later stage nursery diets. But, this option requires prolonged feed storage. This is implemented differently by producers where varying levels of leftover finishing feed are blended into different nursery rations.
Until recently, there has been a lack of information in understanding the growth impact on nursery pigs by blending late finishing diets in different nursery stage rations. To help provide answers on this subject, Kansas State University conducted commercial setting research with New Fashion Pork in Jackson, Minn., blending these rations at different times and amounts.
In the first experiment, pigs were provided a mixture of half last finishing feed and half normal nursery stage feed. For pigs weighing 16 lb. to 22 lb., pigs were significantly worse in performance as expected. They never recovered the loss of weight at the end of nursery and were 2 lb. lighter after 47 days. For pigs provided the blended feed weighing 22 lb. to 35 lb., they were approximately 1.4 lb. lighter at closeout. Finally, if the pigs were provided the blended feed weighing 35 lb. to 45 lb., they were similar in weight at closeout. Pigs weighed approximately 66 lb., which is similar to pigs that were never provided with a last finishing diet blend.
In the second experiment, different amounts (zero , 2.75 lb., 5.5 lb., and 8.25 lb. per pig) of the last finishing diet were blended into the regular ration for pigs with a starting weight of 23 lb. The pigs fed diets with the lowest last finishing diet blend were not affected, but at the highest level, pigs were approximately 1 lb. lighter at the end of the nursery period (approximately 55 lb. closeout body weight).
Our research found that growth performance of nursery pigs was influenced when fed the last finisher feed blended into nursery diets, and its magnitude of change depended on which phase (pig weight) the finisher feed was blended into. When body weight was greater than 22 lb., pigs had improved ability to compensate for the negative effects of feeding finisher feed on overall gain, while finisher feed fed to pigs under 22 lb. resulted in significant reductions in growth that were never recovered by the end of the nursery stage.
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