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Pig Production: Care of Weaner


Caring for Weaner
Recall that piglet immunity rises rapidly after colostrum intake and falls around 2 to 5 weeks of age. After this, the piglet starts building up its own immunities. Since it will take a number of weeks to reach adequate levels, pay particular attention to dryness and cleanliness of the weaner house/pen.
On the other hand, there may be piglets that are not heavy enough to be weaned. For economic and space reasons, you may have to wean even smaller piglets early. If this is the case, it is advised that you give specialized nutrition, warmth, cleanliness and care to these piglets. Otherwise, you may have one spare lactating sow to nurse back these piglets.
Guidelines in Managing Weaner
The following guidelines would be helpful tips in managing weaners:
  • Be sure that the piglets are used to solid feed at weaning age by giving creep feed from 5 days after birth.
  • Reduce the amount of feed on the day of weaning and make sure the feed trough is sufficient for all piglets.
  • Divide the feed to be given over more feeding times so that they get only a small amount of feed per feeding time.
  • It is better to provide mash than pellets, the intake is slower and the meal gets mixed better with the digestive fluids.
  • Remove the sow from the pen and not the piglets. Let the piglets remain in the farrowing-rearing pen for at least 3 days.
  • Avoid mixing litters for at least the first week after weaning. When mixing try to put the stronger piglets together and the same with weaker piglets.
  • Efforts in the area of housing environment should be done.
  • Clean and fresh drinking water should be available during the whole day.
  • Practice wet-feeding as it stimulates intake and reduces digestive troubles
Grouping weaner pigs
When pigs are grouped by size at weaning there is an increased incidence of fighting while the group establishes a pecking order. Despite the increased fighting frequency, grouping by size far outweighs leaving litters intact at weaning. This also reduces the need to sort and mix pigs later on.
How many weaner pigs should you house per pen? A rule of thumb is that each weaner pig requires approximately 0.23 (raised deck) 0.33 (concrete floor pen) square meters.
Dominant animals in a group are the first to eat, drink and choose a preferred lying area. Design your facilities to meet the needs of the subordinate pig. This ensures that all pigs in the pen perform well. A pen that has a large group size or is overcrowded does not cater well to the subordinate pig and will result in uneven growth rates.
Water for the weaned pigs
At weaning, some pigs may not have become accustomed to the nipple drinker. It is important that these pigs find the water nipple quickly since they can become easily dehydrated in their warm environments. To ensure that the pigs find the nipple quickly, adjust the drinker so that it drips water for the first day or so.
WEANER pigs will find water more quickly in the water bowl, but a water nipple is more hygienic. Mount the nipple drinkers 5-cm above the pig's shoulder (Illustration 8) so that they have to raise their head when they drink. Adjustable nipple drinkers are useful since they can be lowered or raised depending on the size of pig in the pen. Check all waterers daily to ensure that they are not clogged.
Pen Sanitation
Many large producers practice all-in-all-out management, whereby the entire house is vacated, washed, disinfected, thoroughly dried and stocked again. Smaller producers have to run continuous flow weaner houses. In such systems, the maximum sanitation and disinfection benefits can be achieved by washing sections of rooms one at a time.
Pen Sanitation Checklist
  • The pen is scraped down to remove manure
  • The pen is then washed down with water and detergents
  • The pen is disinfected and dried
  • Feeders are cleaned and disinfected
  • Feeders are adjusted for proper feed flow (if applicable)
  • Water nipples are checked for proper functioning
  • Heat lamps are turned on when necessary

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