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Study Aims to Improve Feeding Dry Sows Outdoors

13 January 2014, at 8:22am

UK - The benefits to performance, health and cost of production are being investigated at Compton Pigs with a new feed delivery system in which feed is blown through a window into the back of a dry sow arc.

The innovative aspect of this trial is the easy access feed window which sits within the back of the modified dry sow arc. As the feeder pulls up, the arm touches the release lever on the window and allows part of the ration to be blown into hut 1, hut 2 receives its full ration before returning to hut 1 to deliver the remainder.

Because the inside of the hut is nice and dry, there is no feed wastage or competition for feed as the sows have established a natural order which allows the correct feed curve to be followed.

The plan is to place the modified huts in alternate pens to allow us to run a comparison trial with huts that do not have the easy access window so these sows will be ground fed as normal. By doing this, the researchers can gauge the impact of feed wastage, birds etc.

By supplying modified dry sow arcs with easy access feed windows, it is hoped that we will see the following positive outcomes:

  • Less aggression, as sows are not having to seek out the feed in mud
  • A significant reduction in feed wastage, as it will save around 20kg per pen per day (140kg per pen per week)
  • A large reduction in bird activity, as the birds will be unable be able to get to the feed
  • A potential health benefit, as the beds will be cleaner
  • Cleaner beds should lead to a reduction in straw usage
  • With sows/gilts consuming the right levels of feed, there is potential for improved numbers born alive and litter size.
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