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).