Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The "Special Sauce" to Feeding in Lactation

PigEasy Feeder Set Up

Veterinarians, nutritionists and consultants have been promoting ad lib feeding sows in lactation for years due to its many short and long term benefits. Overall, ad lib feeding removes the human element of feed intake, thus giving each sow the ability to choose how much feed she wants to consume throughout the day while greatly cutting down on feed waste.

Common concerns we hear from producers are “Well, we use Brand X of ad lib feeders and all she does is play with it” or “Even though Brand Y Feeder has increased feed consumption, you’ll still see a layer of feed at the bottom of the trough that can build up if staff doesn’t clean it out in the morning.” Basically, feed build up continues to be an issue with certain sows, which will either eat up your time cleaning out feeders or will inhibit future consumption if the feed becomes stale or rotten.

To combat this, the industry developed certain ad lib feeders to be wet/dry, but they came with their own set of issues. Producers have commented on a lot of plugging problems with messes or a bowl full of water from a leaky nipple or the sow over watering herself. Basically, they became a mess.

So what is a producer to do?

In the past, producers chose a lesser of two evils and simply dealt with the negatives.  This is a step in the right direction as we all know how important it is to give her as much feed as possible in lactation.

But what if you could get each sow to the next level WITHOUT having to clean bowl after bowl every day?

It took years of observation and a lot of trials, but Dave came up with the right ingredients to give the sow the power to consume while at the same time training her not to waste.

PigEasy’s not-so-secret ingredients to successful feeding is all about the type of water bracket and nipple and its placement, cutting or drilling a weep hole, and the type of feed bowl.

PigEasy Water Bracket
First, the water bracket needs to be a simple straight pipe with a wet/dry nipple, although we recommend a button nipple. The PigEasy Lactation Water Bracket is a straight stainless steel pipe with two adjustable brackets on the back side.

Adjustable Brackets
Now, the placement – we like to position the water bracket close to the bottom of the feeder for a few reasons. First, its low position works so that the sow physically isn’t able overfill with water as her snout would be completely submerged. This avoids excess water in the bowl that would be difficult to eat out of and also may plug up the feeder. Because she isn’t able to over water, she is simultaneously cleaning her bowl every time she takes a drink (So you don’t have to later!).

Low position of water bracket in
a retrofitted lactation feeder.
The second part of the not-so-secret weapon is the weep hole. Much like in your bathtub or sink, the weep hole installed in a feed bowl relieves any overflow. Therefore, if you have a leaky nipple that goes unnoticed, any water overflow leaves the feeder via the weep hole so your sow will never be without access to feed. We cut/drill the weep hole very low (1/2 to 3/4in off the bottom of the bowl) so water level will never be too high for feed access.

Last, but certainly not least, is the PigEasy feeder design. This lactation feeder eliminates corners and focuses her eating area so buildup can’t occur. At Klocke Farms, the staff estimates they clean out 0-1% of PigEasy feeders every day. So, out of 432 sow feeders, that equals approximately 1-4 bowls. TOTAL. (While the PigEasy feeder maximizes feed intake, you are able to retrofit your current feeder for similar results. Call PigEasy for details.)

With these small changes, you give each sow the power without dealing with the waste, and that is a huge difference. But don’t jump in blindly; try it out and see the benefits yourself.  

For any questions on how to maximize feed intake at critical points in a sow’s reproductive cycle, call PigEasy at (888) 354-0112.