Weaning 8% more piglets per sow per year!

The production level of the modern sow continues to rise. Highly productive companies are growing towards 40 piglets per year, and current legislation requires the search for alternatives in promoting piglet survival, leaning to foster sows and rescue decks. Swinco has developed a strategy that allows us to raise large litters at the farrowing sow; in which all piglets in the farrowing house are reared with the sow, without using traditional foster sows or rescue decks. The focus within this concept is on the health of the sow and the piglets, considering animal welfare, feasibility, and economic benefit for the pig farmer.

Swinco has been monitoring this concept for more than 2 years now, and the results have been astonishing. We have achieved 8% more weaned piglets per sow per year at highly productive companies utilizing Swinco’s Big Litter Concept. In addition to more weaned piglets per sow, we achieve a higher litter weight per sow in the farrowing pen and more uniformity within the litter. The piglets suffer considerably less from a weaning dip, remain viable, and have good intestinal health. The simplicity of this concept makes implementation practical and easy for any sow farm, and, due to its effectiveness, we have seen enormous growth in its popularity.

How does the concept work?

The best results are achieved by selecting litters for uniformity and applying a specific transfer strategy. Science has proven that a pig’s performance is largely determined in the farrowing house and within the first 14 days after weaning. Learning to eat and digest food is imperative to preparing piglets for the weaning process.

Piglets can eat much more than the milk a sow can naturally produce. It is, therefore, a concept necessity to supplement feed via a feeding system. This can be done either with a cup or valve system or via a manual stock system. In this concept, piglets are fed beginning on day 2, there is enough milk for all the litters, and it is possible to keep more than 20 piglets at the sow. Swinco developed a fully automatic drinking cup system that provides the piglets with fresh, liquid feed throughout a 24-hour day. It is a robust system that is easy to use and reduces manual labor requirements. The system collects data for analysis, so better monitoring is guaranteed, allowing producers to quickly make feed adjustments to prevent problems such as reduced feed intake and reduced piglet growth.

Listen as Dutch Farmer Pieter Beerens, who – together with Roel van der Bruggen, Big Litter Concept specialist from Swinco – talks about his experiences using the concept at his own sow farm.

Note from The Editor, Dr. Casey L. Bradley:

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to learn from both Swinco and Pieter Beerens from a distance. I have spent my career managing sows and have tried several different concepts to wean more pigs per sow per year. I have also consulted with several producers that are struggling with more pigs being born than functional teats on a sow. Combining that with a labor shortage, rising feed costs, and the push for carbon neutrality within our industry, The Big Litter Concept is exactly what our industry needs.

Many times, we as producers also take our best sows and make them nurse sows, but little research has been conducted to understand the long-term effects of this practice on the longevity of the sow. I can attest from first-hand experience that it is always not the best decision for our best sows or our piglets. The ability to keep the pigs with the sow opens up so many more opportunities in performance and profitability than PSY and improved weaning weights. If you have an interest in learning more from the experts, please reach out Swinco at http://www.swinco.nl or The Real P3 will be happy to connect you. Thank you Pieter and Roel for sharing your experiences and passion…and inspiring all of us to do better!

About Swinco

Swinco supports and guides international pig farms in improving their business results. With the right advice in the farm management field, feed programs and focus on health and growth, we work together toward the optimum performance of the piglet and the highest possible return for the entrepreneur. Swinco offers a unique concept to the pig industry. This concept is a combination of three elements: a complete range of feed products, feed installation, and management advice. The team consists of 25 experts with years of international and practical knowledge, particularly in the farrowing house. By utilizing this complete concept, Swinco offers solutions to address the ever-important objectives and ambitions of the productive pig farmer.

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