Photo: Danish Agriculture & Food Council

Latest results: 'luxury' feeding may prove competitive in pig production

During this year’s pig congress in Herning, SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre published the latest research results on ad libitum feeding, so-called 'luxury feeding' of pigs. The results are ground-breaking.

The general understanding has tended to be that the lowest feed consumption and the highest meat percentage are achieved with restricted feeding. The results from a new trial have disproved this. Genetic development of Danish finishers means that it can now pay to feed pigs ad libitum from start to finish.

2018 trial
In 2018, Seges Danish Pig Research Centre undertook a comprehensive trial which showed that ad libitum feeding from tube feeders rather than a simple feed dispenser resulted in a lower production value compared to restricted feeding, The lower production value was due to the fact that a high feed intake resulted in a lower feed conversion and meat percentage. Despite the pig’s higher daily gain, this alone could not sufficiently compensate for the financial costs of the two other factors.

New trial: ad libitum feeding with profitable results
A new trial of ad libitum feeding with tube dispensers tested against two types of restricted feeding has concluded that the link between feed intake and productivity has changed and it pays to feed pigs ad libitum.

The conclusion of the trial is that feed strength significantly impacts production results, which is a previously known factor. However, the new aspect is that ad libitum feeding gives the best production value. In other words, that the negative effect seen so far on meat percentage and feed efficiency through the high feed strength of ad libitum feeding is significantly less. In practice, ad-libitum feeding can also minimise the number of runts.

"The new trial results are ground-breaking for Danish pig production not least because ad-libitum feeding from tube dispensers offers a number of benefits such as easy cleaning and easy adjustment. In general, ad libitum feeding can also clarify the workflow in the housing unit,” says Jesper Poulsen, Senior Consultant, Seges Danish Pig Research Centre.

Breeding progress can make profitable ad-libitum feeding possible
There is no definitive answer to the reason for the changes in the trial results for ad libitum feeding. However, the difference can be ascribed to a change in the pig’s genetics where there has most likely been a breeding improvement that has impacted the production stage in recent years.

*The trial was funded by the Danish Pig Levy Fund and put into practice by SEGES Danish Pig Research Centre.

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