“Yes, I could see a difference right away.” That is the promising response from Danish farmer Flemming Bang. “The good thing of the Nedap Farrowing Feeding System is that it delivers the feed slowly. The sows have a lot of time to eat and drink. As a result the piglets are heavier when they are weaned. And piglet mortality has gone down. Also because you don’t have to step in the pen to adjust the feeders.”
Flemming Bang installed the first Nedap Farrowing Feeding System in the Scandinavian country in the middle of 2015. His parents and grandparents were both farmers. Bang bought his farm after 10 years working for a friend’s father – and also taking his education in agriculture. As an add-on he took a finance, economics and leadership class.
The farm is home to 350 Danish Landrace sows and is currently breeding 4000 gilts for sale to customers every year. The rest is finished as slaughter pigs on a rented farm 35km away. Bang also has 150 hectares of arable land growing wheat and barley that he trades with the feed mill that supplies the farm.
Feed intake issue easily addressed
With the old feeding system the lactating sows got 6 kilos of food at once. “They can get tired half-way through”, says Bang. “As a result they do not eat and drink enough.” This feed intake issue was just another management problem Bang had to tackle. Using his skills he prepared the business case for the new Nedap Farrowing Feeding System. In total, 90 of the units have been installed on the farm, for 18 farrowing pens in five rooms.
The Farrowing Feeding System easily addressed the feed intake problems. The sows eat and drink enough. In fact there are some sows that drink almost too much water and don’t get enough food inside them.
Better milk production, higher weaning weight
Because of the better feed and water intake Bang found that the sows are milking better than before. “The piglets are heavier when they are weaned,” he says. “Whatever their weight was before at 28 days, they can now do it at 21 days. And, piglet mortality has gone down. It was between 12 to 15% before, but is between 8 and 10% now.”
“After two months we could see that the sows were not only milking better but also were getting more and more skinny,” Bang says. “We knew we could not push more food into them, so we lowered the volume of feed and packed in more energy and protein, so there is more power per kilo instead, to make sure they have everything they need.”
Fertility on the farm is also thought to have improved, but the fact the herd aims to produce high-health, high-index breeding stock makes this difficult to measure. “Many of my sows only have one time in the farrowing pen,” Bang says, “then they are out again because the potential of their genetics is no longer good enough.”