Forage feeding for pigs could be beneficial

FEEDING pigs a forage-based diet has the potential to fulfil their nutritional and behavioural needs.

This was the conclusion of a study carried out by Ruth Clements, head of vet services at FAI Farms in Oxford.

The findings were heard as part of the ‘moving science forward’ themed profitable grazing conference in Malvern last week.

Ms Clements said FAI Farms had been feeding a silage-based ration to pigs for 10 years, but this study was set up to research effects of forage feeding on growth rates and examined usage of forage legumes and alternative protein sources.

Method

A total of 50 weaned pigs were split into three feed groups and offered a diet of 55 per cent Lucerne silage, 30 per cent barley and 14 per cent of either soya, beans or peas.

The diets were floor fed ad-lib to appetite and the pigs were weighed weekly and feed consumption recorded daily.

Average daily consumption started at 1.5kg/pig at an average age of 10 weeks, rising to 5kg/pig at 23 weeks.

Across the groups, average daily liveweight gains were 287g/day for weaned pigs, increasing to an average 640g/day for growing pigs.

The soya, field beans and pea groups achieved average daily gains of 662g, 592g and 665g respectively during the growing phase.

The trial is due to be repeated later and will include a full financial analysis of the system.

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