Feeder space requirements

Yuzhi Li, WCROC

Kimberly McDonalds and Harold Gonyou, Prairie Swine Center, Saskatoon SK, Canada

March 2015

A key component in swine production is how the feed is delivered to pigs.  A producer can supply the "best feed money can buy," but if it is not readily accessible to his pigs, the money will be wasted.  So, a producer must determine how many pigs to put in the pen and the corresponding number of feeders.  However, deciding how many feeder spaces to provide is no simple matter as many factors influence the number of pigs that can eat from a feeder.

One way to determine feeder space requirement for pigs is to measure how much time pigs need to eat their daily rations at the feeder.  This will dictate the total amount of time that the feeder is used by the pigs in a pen.  When the feeder is expected to be used 100 percent of the time, feeder capacity reaches 100 percent.  The maximum number of pigs that can eat from a single space feeder, which is the feeder space requirement, should not exceed 100 percent feeder capacity.  A study was conducted to determine effects of feed form (mash vs. pelleted diets) and presentation (dry vs. wet/dry diets) on the amount of time needed for pigs to consume their daily rations.  Ultimately, the maximum number of pigs that can eat from a single-space feeder was estimated based on feeder capacity less than 100 percent.

The study used eight pens of 12 pigs, with a single-space feeder in each pen.  Two pens were randomly assigned to each of four treatment combinations: mash diets fed from a dry feeder, mash diets fed from a wet/dry feeder, pelleted diets fed from a dry feeder and pelleted diets fed from a wet/dry feeder.  Eating behavior was video-recorded when the pigs were 80 to 100 pounds and 200 to 220 pounds respectively.  Then, the total duration fo eating was determined for pigs during each phase.

Using the eating behavioral data, the number of pigs needed to achieve 100 percent feeder capacity was estimated.  Results indicate that pigs fed mash diets from a wet/dry feeder spent less time eating (see table below) compared with pigs fed the same diets from a dry feeder.  Consequently, more pigs (20 vs. 13 for the grower phase, and 23 vs. 13 for the finishing phase) can eat from a wet/dry feeder than from a dry feeder when fed mash diets at 100 percent feeder capacity.  Likewise, pigs fed pelleted diets (dry or wet/dry) spent less time consuming their daily rations than pigs fed dry mash diets.  To maintain feeder capacity less than 100 percent, the estimated feeder requirement is 12 pigs per feeder space for pigs fed mash diets from dry feeders during both growing and finishing phases.  For pigs fed pelleted diets or mash diets from wet/dry feeders, the estimated feeder requirment is between 17 and 19 pigs per feeder space for the growing phase, and betweetn 21 and 22 pigs per feeder space for the finishing phase.

The total duration of eating and the number of pigs needed to achieve 100% feeder capacity for growing and finishing pigs using single-space feeders.

Feed Form Mash Mash Pellets Pellets
Feed Presentation Dry Wet/Dry Dry Wet/Dry
Total duration of eating, min/pig/d
Growing pigs* 106.5 72.5 75.9 78.6
Finishing pigs** 105.7 63.5 65.2 64.6
Number of pigs needed to achieve 100% feeder capacity, pigs/feeder space
Growing pigs* 13.5 19.9 19.0 18.3
Finishing pigs** 13.6 22.7 22.1 22.3

* = Growing pigs were 75 to 95 lb at about 10 weeks of age

** = Finishing pigs were 200 to 220 lb at about 22 weeks of age