Production veterinarian - Agropecuaria Casas Nuevas
Production veterinary - Cefusa
The weaning phase is the most critical time in the piglet’s life. Piglets change from one place to another, from milk – a highly digestible liquid feed – to dry feed.
This transition to entering the fattening stage is tremendously important, as it must prepare the animal to reach its full growth potential in the next phase. Therefore, it is crucial to pay special attention to all factors that can influence the growth and development of piglets in transition.
What are the critical aspects of management in transition?
1. Animal separation
Piglets should be separated by sex and size, with smaller ones placed in the central pens in smaller groups to facilitate access to water and feed. Thus, weight and/or age variability between piglets in the same pen can be reduced.
Drinkers for lighter animals must have a constant flow of water in order to encourage their consumption and, consequently, that of the feed.
It is recommended that they are placed at least 11 cm from the floor to prevent contamination with feces.
3. Monitoring of health status
All animals suffering from a pathological process must be treated and separated from the rest in blocks called “nursery“.
4. Animal flow
Work with flows of animals of the same age to avoid transmission of pathogens, shortening the epidemiological chain and the transmission of disease between different lots.
AGE AND WEIGHT AT WEANING
The piglet has an extremely rapid growth capacity after weaning, but there are factors that determine the extent to which this potential is expressed.
Weight, age at weaning and nutrition in breeding determine the condition of the animals in the transition phase.
The age at weaning is variable – 3-4 weeks of life, depending on genetics – and the weight of the piglets weaned in the same week can vary between 2 and 4 kg between the largest and smallest animals.
Selection for hyperprolificacy leads to greater variability in weaning weights and younger piglets are unfamiliar with feed consumption, so proper management during the transition phase is of vital importance.
The most important point to take into account is the flow of piglets, avoiding as much as possible big age differences in the weaning, since this is the most efficient way to reduce the pressure of infection and transmission of certain pathogens.
Continuous flows in the transitions maintain pockets of infection and constant recirculation of pathogens. So moving to All In-All Out systems is the best method of controlling pathologies in the transition phase.
Graph 1. There is great variability in the weight of piglets at weaning, although most are in the 5 to 7 kg weight range.
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