superior starter feed made it possible to wean smaller piglets

Published: 2021-06-07

When influenza was rife in his farrowing unit, Danish pig farmer Michael Møller had to wean smaller piglets than normal. That required a different, superior feed. 

Danish farmer Michael Møller has two herds, totalling 3,200 sows. Different types of influenza were rife in the farrowing unit, giving poorer quality piglets for a while. 

In consultation with his vet, he decided to take a more radical approach in the farrowing unit. Apart from vaccinating for both influenza types, they divided the unit into three. No piglets were moved from one area to another, meaning that on weaning day, they were all - with no exceptions - weaned.

Previously, the smallest piglets were moved to a group of reserve sows, but there was a suspicion that it was this particular group of pigs that were the cause of the persistent influenza.

“Our new approach meant that we had a couple of hundred very small piglets every week that needed special care and feed”, explains Michael.

Power Pig Plasma from Vilomix

To give that group every chance of a good start, he bought Power Pig Plasma from Vilomix. This is one of the more expensive starters with 5% blood plasma and 10% milk powder along with 3.5% HP 300 and 2.5% fishmeal and Protastar.

“The mix has been in our range for about a year now. It’s ideal for herds where you have to wean small piglets for various reasons”, states nutritionist Julie Holsbo from Vilomix.

Michael gave his piglets the mixture for a week in the farrowing unit, from when they were 7-10 days old. They then switched to the standard starter feed. After weaning, the smallest 10% of the piglets were put back on Power Pig Plasma.

“The smallest were given Power Pig Plasma for another 1-2 weeks, depending on Swetlana’s assessment,” says Michael.

Swetlana has been in charge of the 7,000 piglets at Bisgård for several years. Michael had found that everything goes smoothly when she is looking after the smallest pigs.

“She follows no manual but takes a look and decides what each pen needs,” he explains.

Swetlana uses Power Pig Plasma, milk powder and extra water as well as gruel/soaked feed, depending on what she believes the pigs need.

There are weaning pigs at a total of six locations. Keeping the smallest at Bisgård makes it easier for the other personnel to look after the piglets at the five other locations.


After having practised this approach to weaning for a year, the challenges with influenza in the farrowing unit are under control, and PRRS along with it.
Both have had a positive effect on piglet quality, which is much higher now than it used to be. What made that possible was the significantly better starter feed for the smallest ones during that period.
“Blood plasma after weaning is well worth it for the smallest pigs. Not for all of them - but for the smallest ones,” concludes Michael.
The experience has made him more aware of how weaning should be tackled when medical zinc needs to be phased out:
  • Thorough cleaning 
  • Thorough drying and heating of units
  • No overcrowding
  • Easy access to water, preferably in a basin
  • ‘Super feed’ for the smallest 10%
  • Reserve the best grain for piglets
“If we can fulfil these requirements, I believe we can manage without zinc,” he says.
His feed costs are around DKK 95/EUR 12,8 per piglet for this feed season. The fact that it’s no higher is due to buying his feed grain in the autumn. A lot of his feed grain is bought from neighbours.
Despite a kilo price of DKK 30/EUR 4 for blood plasma, Michael believes that it could well be part of the solution when it comes to feed.
Julie Holsbo of Vilomix adds that the sales of blood plasma has increased significantly over the last four years. It’s now sold both in finished feed and in supplement feeds.
“We've found that blood plasma makes a big difference to the smallest pigs for weaning,” she says. She expects blood plasma to be more in demand with the phasing-out of zinc.
(The article has been brought in Danish in the magazine SVIN in 2021).

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