Enhancing Piglet Weaning Weights



Feeding the dry sow

Increase feeding from day 90 to improve piglet birth weights. An extra 200 g at birth is worth about 6 days to slaughter. Restricting the feed intake of dry sows will also help lactation intake


Adequate set up of farrowing accommodation

The farrowing accommodation must be very clean. It is essential to reduce as much as possible the disease risk. The farrowing area must also be set up to provide heat and a drying environment to the new born piglet. The farrowing area must be draught free. A heat source should be placed behind the back of the sow.


Colostrum intake

Adequate colostrum intake and colostrum quality is the key to giving the piglet a good start.


Prompt feed intake

40% of preweaning mortality is associated with malnutrition.


Feeding the lactating sow

To ensure good growth rates in the piglets. Adequate milk production is needed for each day of life. Aim for a consumption of around 10 kg by day 18 of lactation (gilts may only achieve 9kg). Adherence to a lactation diet. Use an agreed feeding curve and use known quality of feed per day. Check water supply regularly, milk is 80% water. Piglets are 85% water. Lysine concentrations may have a direct influence on weaning weight, recommendations 1.3% lysine, note also valine (1.3% recommended). Barley based diets may help sows milk better with less problems post-farrowing



To reduce disease risk. Piglets have two major options with protein intake, lay down lean tissue or produce antibodies. Hygiene is not just about set up, but cleaning while the piglets are in the room, i.e. prompt removal of scour. Having different brushes and scrapes for each room.


Creep feeding

Three times a day. Use good quality creep. Start feeding from day 14 little and often. Use a creep tray (which is sterilised between batches and litters). Keep creep feed cool.


Proposed growth curve


Normal pig growth 180-250 g/day, but experimentally can be up to 500g/day


Enhancing Piglet Weaning Weights 2



Water intake

Absolutely vital to weaning weights: With sows fed a constant intake of feed and offered different amounts of water daily:

8 litres per day piglet growth 50 g/day

16 litres per day piglet growth 200g/day

24 litres per day piglet growth 300g/day


All-in all-out

This is the only way to attempt to achieve a reasonable standard of hygiene. You cannot pressure-wash while sows and piglets are in the room. Moving piglets is moving disease.


Breeding programme

Change to a budget breeding programme rather than breeding by opportunity. Only serve sufficient sows to fill the farrowing house as required. Divide farrowing area into usable blocks, i.e. 24 day weaning, gives a 5 week turn around.



Very useful in the first 24 hours. After this time must adhere to a pre-set protocol. Many cross-fostered piglets die and take other piglets with them. Adequate identification of piglets is essential to ensure that cross-fostering is carried out effectively. Ensure piglets are evenly shared between available sows.


Environment for piglet


BOCM Trial (98)

Same level of feed

Water controlled

24 day weaning


Water Pig growth

Air- Temperature 30C

Air speed zero

Outdoors check arc has no holes. Earth farrowing arcs

No insulation increase LCT 5C

Wet floor increases LCT 10C

Slow Air movement (30ft/min) increases LCT 6C

Water- nipple 4-6" from ground at 300 ml per min

Feed- Good quality creep feed 3 times daily from day 14

Use a creep feeder

Store creep in the cool and dry off the ground

Floor - insulated solid area required. Ensure slatted area not rough.

Control flies

Control foxes, seagulls and magpies outdoors
Fenders fit well onto arc and ensure no piglet is able to escape.

8 lt/day


16 lt/day


24 lt/day




Reduce disease

Good recognition of the disease causing a problem and prompt treatment.

Willingness to submit live pigs for post-mortem investigations

Adequate feed-back and vaccine programmes

Adequate medicine storage programmes


Age of weaning

Is the post-weaning accommodation suitable for the weight of the pigs moving into the accommodation?


Time of day feeding sow

Avoid feeding sow when ambient temperature too hot ie mid-day feeding as this will reduce total intake


Gilt management

Provide the gilts with the stronger piglets