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Nursery Pigs

What’s important during this life stage?

  • Improving growth performance: An animal never gets over a bad start, so it is critical to provide weaning piglets with optimal nutrition and an ideal growing environment in order to achieve maximum lifetime performance.
  • Improving gut intestinal morphology: Gut health is essential for building a foundation for performance and profitability in pig production. Healthy pigs will eat and produce more efficiently.
  • Increasing feed intakes at weaning: Providing the necessary nutrients during this highly energy-dependent stage is important to ensuring that the pig can easily transition from liquid to solid food.
  • Building immune health: If pigs aren't eating well, gut health may be compromised, which can affect their overall health and make them more vulnerable to disease challenges.

Common challenges:

  • Poor feed intakes at weaning: Weaning is the single biggest stressor in a pig's life, so feeding weaned pigs can be a challenge. Pigs that do not transition well from milk to dry feed risk having their gut health compromised and falling victim to disease challenges.
  • Poor health and an increase in treated animals: Health-challenged pigs tend to be problematic all the way through to market, so it’s vital for pigs to get off to the right start.
  • Diarrhea: When considering the causes of diarrhea in piglets and newly weaned pigs, focus on these three areas: sanitation, pathogen control and proper nutrition.

Tips for maximizing health and performance: 

  • Maximize feed intake: To maximize feed intake, piglets must be able to easily access the feeder. The feeder must be open and easy to find so that pigs have unrestricted access to it and should be adequately spaced for the number of pigs accessing it.
  • Encourage young pigs to drink: To encourage young pigs to drink, it is best to provide water in open cup drinkers, poultry drinkers or water bowls for the first 3 to 4 days after weaning. If nipple drinkers are the only source of water, it may take young pigs up to 24 hours to drink an adequate amount. Make sure the drinkers are functioning correctly; otherwise, some pigs may never get enough water.
  • Provide a warm environment: Weaned pigs require a warm environment, starting between 85–89°F, depending on the weight or health of the pigs.
  • Conduct daily pen walk-throughs:
    • Ensure that feeders and waterers are functioning properly
    • Inspect for signs of excessive moisture and diarrhea
    • Identify and pull fall-behinds and/or treat sick pigs