Getting pigs up, eating and drinking in the first 24 hours in the nursery is essential to their success. Pigs that don’t get up and start eating can quickly fall behind, and pigs that don’t eat in the first 36 hours have a 75% higher likelihood of early mortality.
Why some pigs struggle
There are a variety of factors that can play into how long it takes a pig to get on feed in the nursery. These include:
Genetics. Certain genetic lines simply take longer to get motivated. With this in mind, it’s important to know your pigs’ genetics so that you can be prepared for the amount of work it will take to get them started on feed in the nursery.
Hydration. Pigs are more likely to eat if they start drinking. Many pigs get dehydrated during transportation, so having easy access to water, preferably with electrolytes, can be beneficial in getting them off to a solid start.
Gut health. When animals go off feed, their gut pH can rise, making it more hospitable to harmful bacteria such as E. coli. Adding an acidifier to their water source can help bring the animals’ guts back to a lower pH. Adding prebiotic fiber can also encourage gut activity and good bacterial growth to push out any harmful bacteria.
Management factors that can impact success
The proper environment is essential to getting your pigs going in their new nursery environment. Here are three tips for ensuring your pigs have what they need as soon as they step onto the floor.
When the new pigs arrive, make sure the barn is ready. This can mean ensuring it is at the right temperature, around 80-82 degrees Fahrenheit. Too cold, and the pigs will focus their energy on warming up, not on eating.
It’s also important to ensure everything is clean. Check that feeders and trough waterers are free of waste and disinfectant water. Older, more established pigs may not be bothered by disinfectant, but a small pig just getting on dry feed in a new location will struggle.
Make sure feed and water are easily accessible. For water, this can mean ensuring the appropriate nipple heights and delivery capacity – at least two cups of water per minute. Feeders should be adjusted so that 25-50% of the feeding pan is visible. There should be feed in the feeders ready for the pigs to consume.
Ralco is committed to your pigs’ early nursery success
Ralco’s Essential-Lyte™ is an all-natural water additive that helps get your pigs off to a solid start in the nursery. This blend of immune-building essential oils and vitamins, electrolytes, probiotics and a water acidifier can help get your newest pigs up and drinking and on feed in the first 24 hours.