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Pigs appear to eat more creep out of white coloured feed hoppers than black ones - and round feeders can also encourage a higher feed intake than the rectangular wall-mounted designs, in the opinion of Mike Baker, of Porcine Services, who runs an independent trials unit in Suffolk.
"Newly weaned pigs which are still sorting out their social hierarchy may feel vulnerable to attack and be reluctant to put their heads into dark feeding spaces. With round feeders, there are generally no solid divisions so the pigs can see their pen-mates while they are feeding. Later on, this competition may actually increase consumption," he commented. These were among the tips passed on to producers attending a study day, organised by creep feed specialists, Tuck Box Limited. The aim of the event, staged at Woolpit, was to help producers to brush up on their creep feed management.
"The first 7-10 days post-weaning are crucial for little pigs. Research has shown that increased creep feed consumption at this stage results in faster growth all the way through to slaughter weight," said Tuck Box director David Wilby. "In our experience, few farmers are taking full advantage of this fact but by making small adjustments to management, considerable amounts of money can be saved. The beauty - particularly at this time - is that most of the techniques cost nothing to implement."
Feed intake is strongly linked to liquid consumption. Mike Baker advises providing supplementary water for a minimum of seven days immediately after weaning in 'cube' or bell-shaped turkey drinkers, which make the water easily accessible.
Early feed consumption can also be promoted by sprinkling small amounts of creep on the floor - or on trays or conveyor belting if the pens are slatted, 2-3 times a day for 4-5 days after weaning, varying the times this is done. Normal creep feeders should be provided in addition, to get the piglets used to them.
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