Immediately after weaning the growth rate of pigs normally drops dramatically. Feed intake falls until pigs familiarise themselves with the new systems and diets in place for feeding.
Two ways which have been suggested to help pigs adapt to their new environment include:
- offering feed in a liquid or ‘wet’ form and
- offering feed in a highly accessible manner. The aim of this study was to assess whether providing additional wet feed at regular intervals in a highly accessible trough improves the performance of weaned pigs.
At weaning pigs were penned in groups of 15 and offered a dry pelleted feed through 2 single-space ‘wet and dry’ feeders. Additional wet feed was prepared using the dry pelleted feed mixed in a 2:1 ratio with water and this was offered from a metal trough for several days post weaning. The performance of pigs penned in a mixed weight group were also compared with the performance of pigs when they were housed in even weight groups e.g. all small pigs grouped together. Overall providing additional wet feed in a trough had no significant effect on growth rate during stage 1 and 2. In general feed ‘intake’ (or disappearance) increased when wet feed was offered via a trough but feed conversion ratio was poorer. There were no additional advantages found from offering small pigs wet feed in a trough when small pigs were grouped together. In addition, the above practice added labour and capital costs to the management system for no extra benefit.