Cut back on antibiotics | National pig breeder
By: Casey Neill, Chief Nutritionist, Pipestone Nutrition
The goal of most pig producers is to make money by raising pigs. With the current ingredient prices, we’ve received a lot of questions on how to reduce the cost of feed, which is a great question. However, many growers focus on the cost of feed per tonne and immediately focus on nursery diets. The most expensive feed cost per ton is still that of the first nursery bunches, although the feed budget for the nursery phase is only about 3% of the total feed budget. While it is very tempting to cut feed budgets or skip phases one and two, I would proceed with caution for several reasons.
Nursery nutrition: mortality, slaughter, treatments and delays
From our research trials and closing data, we validated that nursery feed formulation and feed budgets are an important area for reducing nursery mortality and delays. The first two weeks after weaning will affect the overall performance of this group. When cheaper food formulations are used, we can document a higher fallout rate in these groups. Weaned pigs do not respond well with a rapid transition from liquid sow milk to dry feed and less complex ingredient choices. As a result, more pigs give up feed, become thin, and do not grow well. Soon this pig will become a lagging pig. Many trolling pigs may not make a full value finishing hog. This can result in enteric problems which eventually lead to secondary problems and soon this pig needs antibiotic treatment.
With the industry pushing hard for fewer antibiotics, nursery nutrition is a tool to promote healthy pigs and less treatment is needed. To demonstrate the importance of the first week after weaning, we have a table from Tokach et al. 1992 which demonstrates how the first 7 days after weaning can affect the lifelong performance of this pig. In the study, Tokach took pigs that grew well in the first 7 days after weaning and compared their weight to pigs in the same group that did not start well in the first 7 days. As you can see when the pigs start out well, having good ADG they will grow well all round and weigh more than groups of pigs that had bad ADG that first week of feeding.
Below is a research trial from a Pipestone Research barn that evaluated different nursery diet formulation options to keep costs down. Treatment A is the current formulation of Pipestone Nutrition. Not only was it the fastest ADG, it also had the lowest number of deletions. When we do our research, we look at growth performance, economics, and mortality. One way to reduce the cost of feed is to sell more pigs as full value pigs and nursery formulation plays an important role in this.
With the right nursery formulation, we see fewer pigs that fall behind and require antibiotic treatment.
Finisher Nutrition: Reduce vices and improve pigs at full value
The formulation of the finishing regimen also plays a major role in reducing the use of antibiotics by preventing vices such as tail bites, ear necrosis, flank bites etc. When defects occur, pigs must be treated to fully recover. A trial in Canada looked at different energy levels and response to vices. To the right is the table that shows the rate of defect elimination by diet energy level. When the energy became too low, the amount of eliminations increased.
In another trial at PIPESTONE, we saw similar results when we assessed energy levels. When pigs were fed low energy diets, we reported an increase in vices and therefore more processing was needed.
A case study of a producer in Northwest Iowa dealing with vices showed that when they switched to the Pipestone Nutrition formulation with improved energy and amino acid levels, we were able to slow down the tail bites and decrease mortality.
Enzymes are another tool we can use to reduce paver mortality. A trial by Rush et al. 2014 demonstrated the use of a xylanase enzyme on finishing pig mortality. A field trial conducted by Pipestone Nutrition demonstrated similar results and lower mortality and now xylanase is used in all Pipestone Nutrition finishing diets.
To reduce the use of antibiotics, there are several things to think about on the nutrition side:
Nursery Nutrition: Don’t do it cheap. Proper formulation will reduce the number of delays and the need for processing. Plus, the choice of ingredients will help them get off to a good start for the first 7 days after weaning, which will improve their overall performance.
Finishing Nutrition: Correct Energy and Enzymes. Stable and field research experiences have shown that an appropriate formulation has a major impact on vice behavior. In turn, fewer pigs need to be processed and more value-added pigs will come to market. Enzymes also help reduce paver mortality and are very economical to use.