The Challenges of Piglets and Weaning – How to address common issues with thoughtful products
What are some challenges faced by those who raise pigs, during the weaning phase?
This article focuses on the concepts surrounding challenges during the weaning phase of a pork operation, which is a continual process for large scale operations. We believe that a basic examination about the process of weaning upon the backdrop of the entire growth cycle can help to eliminate concerns in the different parts of the overall process.
Furthermore, we at ADA Enterprises believe that adding consistency to your entire operation can promote better results, generally. We make products that can help to improve overall consistency and promote larger returns on investment in direct ways, like total pork production weights and volumes, and in passive ways as well – more on this later.
While we admit we are not the experts in the day to day operations of any specific pork operation, we are experts in providing tooling that can mitigate common concerns for your drift as they mature. Our products are built to ensure that your overall operation can thrive through direct improvements in the infrastructure and capabilities of your nursery and weaning areas and beyond.
What you will find in this article is our take on how to improve consistently, even if incrementally, the overall production value of your operations through evening out the consistency of your processes and utilizing the proper tooling.
Creating a better environment from a multi-variable perspective to ensure more piglets make it through the weaning process
Common thought would lead one to believe that diet has an overwhelming majority of the impact on health and total production of meat animals. It is no doubt important. But with pigs, and this is especially true as they change physical locations, diet isn’t the only important factor in growth, health and safety. Habits, conditions and diet also play a much more critical roll in early periods of growth for pigs than other meat animals.
There are many different variables to consider while optimizing a pork operation. And our customers are all types of producers, from first time operators building out their first facility to long-term, high volume producers looking to expand or shooting for optimization in their total returns.
It should be noted that there are benefits to outdoor raising of pigs, and it does have some advantages. However, we are of the belief that indoor pork operations, especially in geographical locations where temperature extremes can occur, is a more consistent way to ensure proper, calculable returns.
Here are some concepts surrounding the topic.
Better comfort for the piglets
Pigs are taught to feed from day one. They want to eat, sleep, play, and stay comfortable. While diet is important in the weaning stages, and an optimal nutrition mix should be formulated, we also believe that warmth, reduction in extremes and comfortable footing should be prioritized too.
When an operation is trying to optimize at the weaning stage, much of the process to ensure that optimization, comes in the steps taken prior to weaning itself. When proper access to the sow is available, and the piglets are free from ancillary concerns (like bacteria from feces and wet conditions which can complicate many other important factors), they can more easily put on proper weights at the nursery and farrowing stages.
Better health and safety for the piglets
Better health starts with proper conditions. Weaker pigs are going to have better chances without negatively impacting other heads, when they are kept comfortable and have access to food early on. Consistent average weights are a factor of nutrition program, comfort level and consistency in all stages of a pork operation. When an animal is not subjected to high viral or bacterial loads thanks to raised flooring, let’s say, then their overall chances for fattening go up because there are lessened illness concerns.
Pigs with infections and who can spread disease because of greater access to waste products and general detritus cause problems for total weight to market of the entire group. This begins with the farrowing process and continues, ever increasingly as a greater risk, into the nursing and weaning phases.
Having separation from dirty waste products like fecal matter and wet food that can grow bacteria, improves the chances of pigs reaching market weight as a full drove.
ADA Enterprises specializes in making flooring and farrowing/nursery/weaning products that help to ensure you can minimize contact for your pigs with foriegn substances, bacteria laden waste and more smoothly administer the process in a day to day pig operation.
Finding the right Nutrition and removing weaknesses from the weaning barn (and prior to it)
Some percentage of your animals will die. It’s a foregone conclusion. Most of this can be optimized for prevention through cleanliness and early assessment, along with a proper nutritional mix.
Importantly, dead animals in each phase must be identified and removed swiftly. Proper controls on conditions can play a part. During mass feeding operations, pigs push and shove and there is a lot of excess heat generation and it is a physical scenario. Identifying early on, the weaklings that may have to be culled, or at least moved into different areas, is important. During rigorous situations, smaller pigs will be more susceptible to damage and injury.
We also offer a pork lift that can move a full grown sow if deceased.
Having a raised floor operation can help to ensure proper footing, limit over crowding around a feed or sow area, and prevent injuries which can lead to infection or inability to move a head onto market. Specifically ADA Enterprises offers flooring that has properly sized holes to allow for fecal matter and half eaten food to fall through; while the surface coating on the flooring doesn’t hold water and can be cleaned easily. The sizing and layout of the pattern on this flooring allows small feet to be protected from farrowing through weaning.
This is a major consideration as weight begins to escalate, as mass to hoove ratios begin to grow disproportionately.
Pushing for more consistent environment for the piglets
Early on, as we know can be an important time for preparing for weaning, pigs need consistent temperatures and dry conditions. Sure, we all hear about how pigs love to roll around in the cool, wet mud. But in farrowing and nursery phases, this is not an ideal condition. Bacteria can affect young piglets differently as they can get infected eyes, ears, snouts. Additionally, any injury to limbs, and it may be game over for a young pig. Certainly there are few ways to make it economically feasible to treat injured young animals. Avoidance and prevention of injury far outweighs treatment for it.
Having a consistent environment is incredibly important. For at least the farrowing and nursery programs, we recommend a raised floor system. Our flooring offers better condition control regarding bacterial spread, temperature consistency, and cleanliness in general.
This can translate to easier to manage operational duties day-in-and-day-out, and cleaner, healthier piglets.
In areas where weather is an issue, indoor operations can yield much more consistent weights overall. Certainly from a staffing perspective, indoor operations are more controllable and lead to far fewer hours wasted in daily chores.
Having a raised floor system allows for improved airflow, lower shock temperature swings and easier maintenance.
Building a system that helps to ensure a consistent pork raising program is not a one time task
Of course good planning to begin with is crucial. But the operational yields can vary because of many nuanced factors over time. Getting a consistent setup that is easy to maintain and provides a consistent regimen for your entire drove/sounder/passel is an exercise in incremental optimization and shrewd observation.
But with any process, changes need to be made continually to increase to fully optimized levels.
Can ADA Enterprises help your Pork operation? Let’s see
We’d love to see if we can help you reduce the challenges and complexities of the Piglet weaning process. This is a difficult topic to cover in a small article format. You’re likely to see future articles that address some of the process in a more granular way.
While we aren’t pig nutrition experts, and we aren’t day-to-day operational support in your operation, we can play a role if you have a need to remove ancillary concerns that stem from safety, health and infection perspectives. We can also help create consistency and offer a strong product mix that will make your life easier, which means your pigs will get a more consistent routine from you and your people.
We are very good at reducing the risk for the areas we specialize in, and we can help you minimize injury, viral and bacterial spread, and ensure important metrics can be met from an infrastructure perspective.
Most importantly, we’ve worked with thousands of clients, and have learned a thing or two from some very successful pork operations. Our team can assist in the planning phase to ensure what can be done preemptively, what can be implemented from day one in a new operation, or can be important during an expansion of your operation.