Enhancing Post-weaning Feed Intake


It is essential to get the weaned pig rapidly adapted to its new existence post-weaning.


Feeding space – weaning until day 3


Provide trough sufficient so that all the newly weaned pigs can eat at once. Provide 10 cm per pig – note the trough can allow pigs to eat from both sides – therefore 5 cm per pig.  Thus for each 20 pigs provide 1 m of trough space

The extra trough can be simply designed from plastic guttering; 12 cm wide supported by 35 cm long, 6 cm wide platforms.

If the floor is slotted, 15 cm long nails can be driven through the platform feet to hold the trough in place.

Components of the gruel


Consistency of the gruel

Component of the gruel

Volume of gruel

per 100 pigs



Solid:  any good quality early starter creep diet.  24% protein, 18DE.  Highly digestible ideally with a high milk component

Day 1



Day 1

2 litres every 2 hours

Day 2

1-3 feed

4-6 feed



Day 2

2.5 litres every 2 hours



Liquid: Fresh water.  May be substituted with dairy by-products – out of date milk, cream, and yogurt for example. Chocolate by-products are also excellent.

Day 3

1-2 feed

3-4 feed



Day 3

2.5 litres every 3 hours



Day 4



Day 4

2.5 kg of dry feed

It is important to avoid contaminated water – which may cause feed refusal

Feeding protocols

Day of weaning


Wean the pigs and allow 2 hours for the weaners to acclimatize to their new environment.  Ideally make several drinkers leak so the weaners are attracted to them.  No drinker should be elevated or requiring a step up.  Turkey drinkers can be very useful.


After 2 hours go into the weaner pen and call the weaners by voice.

Tap on the feed bucket and pour the gruel into the trough, filling the whole length of the trough.

The weaners will rapidly come up to you and start swarming around you and the trough.

Stay still and gently talk to the weaners.

It is essential that only sufficient food be placed in the trough that the weaners will eat in 10 minutes.  If the trough is cleaned up within 10 minutes, at the next feed, increase volume by 20%.

Place dry creep feed in the normal feeders by hand.


Repeat step 2 at 1.5 hour intervals

Weaners not eating


Note and mark all weaners who shy away from the trough and refuse to eat at the first 2 occasions.

At the 3rd time pick up all the weaners who have refused to eat.  Place the weaner by the feed trough and encourage, using fingers if necessary, the weaner to eat.

End of the first day of weaning


After the 3rd feeding opportunity is finished, turn off the lights to encourage the weaners to sleep.

2nd Day


Feed gruel to the pigs every 2 hours. Therefore, feed 6 times today.

Note the increases in volume and dryness of the feed.

At the end of the day, switch off the lights again and allow the pigs to sleep

The feeding interval is intended to prevent the weaners from screaming after their lost mothers.

Increase the amount of feed in the normal feeders – still fed by hand


3rd Day


Continue feeding gruel and extend the feeding interval to every 3 hours – therefore 4 times today.

Turn on normal creep feeders.

4th day


Feed only one gruel feed 2 hours after daybreak.  Observe the weaner’s behaviour.

If the pigs are well settled, no further manual feeding is required.

Ensure normal feeders are working and adjusted as normally required.


Weaners eating out of a trough feeder/  Be concerned about the pig arrowed.

Trough feeder when not in use.  Note additional water supplied also by a trough

Caring for the lower order pigs


If the bottom 10% of pigs at weaning are streamed into a separate environment, it is possible to modify the gruel-feeding programme to cover 7 days, rather than the 3 days proscribed.

Note, however, it is essential to get the pig’s eating normal creep feed as soon as possibly, otherwise a double weaning event will occur, which will put the pig’s back significantly

Disadvantages or problems


If gruel feeding is continued too long a double weaning event will occur.

The gruel feed costs a lot of money and it is essential it is only used to ensure all the weaned pigs learn to eat normal quantities of creep feed post-weaning

If diarrhoea starts check product quality and reduce the interval of feedings

If pigs do not eat up the volume within 10 minutes, reduce next feed volume by 10%

If there is too much food provided you are cheating on the human time element – resulting in a loss of the weaner’s normal behaviour

None talkative stockpeople do not mimic the sow’s normal calling behaviour

Why put this much effort into the first five days post-weaning?


To reduce the incidence of post-weaning ill-thrift.

To enhance the growth of the pigs to finish.  Good feed intake (>250 g a day) in the first week is worth over 10 days to finish at 100 kg liveweight

Ill-thrift in a weaner - starved

Empty stomach and intestines