It has been observed that a “growth check” occurs at 10 weeks of age when pigs are moved from stage 1/stage 2 accommodation to finishing accommodation.
One reason for this “growth check” was hypothesised to be associated with the fact that feed was offered from different feeder types in the growing and finishing accommodation compared to stage 1/stage 2 accommodation. Two feeder types, ‘dry’ multi-space and ‘wet and dry’ single-space were used in an experiment consisting of four treatments to investigate the effect of feeder type and change on the lifetime performance and behaviour of pigs. Two treatments involved the feeder type not changing from stage 1/stage 2 accommodation to finishing accommodation and the other two treatments involved a change in feeder type when pigs moved accommodation at 10 weeks of age.
There was no benefit to not changing the feeder type on growth rate in the week immediately after transfer from stage 1/stage 2 accommodation. However, when the feeder type changed from a ‘dry’ multi-space feeder in stage 1/stage 2 accommodation to a ‘wet and dry’ single-space feeder in finishing accommodation (M-S) the average daily gain of pigs was significantly higher (P<0.05) in the finishing period (11 weeks of age to finish; 886 g/day) and overall from weaning to finish (P<0.05, 730 g/day). When pigs were offered feed from the aforementioned feeder regime, the average number of pigs at the feeder during the finishing period was significantly higher (1.19 (freq/30 seconds), P<0.001) and average daily feed intake was numerically higher. Therefore the change in feeder type, from a ‘dry’ multispace feeder in stage 1/stage 2 accommodation to a ‘wet and dry’ single-space feeder in finishing accommodation appeared to stimulate pigs to eat throughout the finishing period and improved production performance. No reduction in the variation of growth rate was observed for any treatments.
The work concludes that although a change in feeder type decreases the growth rate of pigs when moved to finishing accommodation the effect is not exacerbated throughout the finishing period. In fact, a change in feeder type from a ‘dry multispace’ feeder in stage 1/stage 2 accommodation to a ‘wet and dry’ single-space feeder in the finishing accommodation appeared to stimulate pigs to eat and promote optimum production performance from weaning to finish.