One-third of sows are not in optimal condition
Keeping a sow in top condition is easier said than done, since feeding based on needs requires skill and labour. As a pig farmer, there are various aspects that you can control:
- Hand feeding: this allows you to assess the condition of the sows every day and to adjust the feed curve individually. This is a labour-intensive task that must always be carried out by the same person in order to avoid differences in assessment.
- Feeding from a feeding station: at the start of gestation, you determine the condition of the sow and place her on a matching feed curve. At the next condition assessment (usually after 60 days of gestation), you will know whether the feeding schedule has had the desired effect. If not, it will be difficult to make adjustments during the second phase of gestation.
- Measuring the thickness of fat by hand: every few weeks, you measure the thickness of the sow’s fat. The feed curve can then be adapted, based on the absolute value and the increase in fat thickness. One disadvantage, of course, is that this is very labour intensive. Besides, modern sows are rich in meat and the absolute value of the fat thickness is not a determining factor in terms of their condition.
- Manual weighing: you weigh all the sows once every two to three weeks on a weighing scale. The feed curve is then adjusted, based on an objective measurement of weight gain.
- Automatic weight monitoring: the sows are automatically weighed on a daily basis at the feeding station. Animals with insufficient weight gain are placed on a monitoring list, so that you can immediately adjust the feed curve for these sows. This ensures that your sows are in the appropriate condition at 60 days of gestation. In future, it may even be possible for the feed computer to optimise the feed rations itself.
Automation is profitable
The importance of need-based feeding is growing. We demand top performance from the sow, and that includes a top (sport) condition. At the same time, skilled personnel are scarce. Process automation helps you to achieve good results with limited labour. This allows you to keep your enterprise in a good technical and financial condition.