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Liquid Swine Feed Gaining in Popularity

by 5m Editor
21 November 2011, at 10:01am

NEBRASKA, US - Liquid feeding systems may not be common in US swine production, but were explained how they are being used satisfactorily elsewhere during a conference in Omaha.

"We're seeing an opportunity to improve feed efficiency," said Case De Lange from the University of Guelph in Ontario Province in Canada.

Mr De Lange's talk on liquid feed was one of 15 topics expressed at the International Conference on Feed Efficiency in Swine, held from 8-9 November at CenturyLink Center Omaha.

Midwest Producer reports that the conference was organized by animal science divisions at Kansas State University and Iowa State University.

The event had registered 420 by the start of the first day, from 15 countries and at least 20 states.

It was the kickoff to a five-year project to study swine feed efficiency. Another conference is expected in five years to see advancements in research.

"One of five pigs in our province is raised on liquid feed systems," Mr De Lange said.

The computerized systems were first used in Europe. They use high-moisture (25 per cent) corn - saving money that would have been used for drying - and inexpensive co-products from the food and biofuel industry.

Liquid swine feed in Europe is based more on wheat and barley, so corn has been quite different, Mr De Lange said.

"There is a learning curve," he acknowledged.

The distillers grain with solubles has shown no impact on carcass and meat quality, Mr De Lange said. The liquid feeding allows for use of inexpensive liquid co-products, though there may be some reductions in pig performance.

Liquid systems allow control and flexibility in developing unique feeding programmes, with good records, environmental impact and profits, he said.

"In 10 years of the University of Guelph system, no antibiotics have gone through the feeding system," he said. The liquid feeding provides a means to provide gut health promoting lactic acid and related compounds.

Liquid systems improve the workplace with less dust, better labor efficiency and reduced staff turnover, Mr De Lange's research showed. And the pigs' well-being has improved, possibly because of the quieter delivery system more than the feed itself.

The feeding results need predictability, he said, with good people in the barns who recognize problems or situations.

The staff requires unique skills and attitude. The computer systems are technologically intensive. Not everything will work satisfactorily. A mix of corn and water sitting in the feed lines will plug and burst the lines.

Operators must have flexibility because inputs will vary in quality and availability. Because of the liquids, pens will be dirtier.

Fermentation occurs in any liquid feeding system, but usually is not an issue, he said. Unfavorable microbes can lead to loss of feed palatability; only then should the system be cleaned and disinfected.

Guelph chose to use air to move the liquid feed through the pipes. Computerization allows the feed ingredients to be blown to specific troughs, Mr De Lange said.

The size of feeding operation has little to do with the efficiency of a liquid system, Mr De Lange said Guelph research showed.

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