Good results with milk cups and gruel feed

Published: 2021-06-07

At the Danish farmer Jørgen Gram milk cups and gruel feed* for his piglets have given weaned pigs of 8 kg. Good management and highly-functional sows make it possible to wean large, healthy piglets that are already well used to eating. That means a lot for health in the farrowing unit and early weaning unit. 

* Feed soaked with water/feed soup/porridge

The production consists of a site with 500 sows and a site where the pigs stay in the same stable from weaning to finishing. A 14 day cycle is run in the sow unit, which gives around 35 nursing days.
 
The Danish farmer does not believe he’s had to make any compromises with either his sow, suckling or weaner feed. There have been problems with toxins in recent years. Especially in the sow unit, where sows failed to produce milk optimally and there were sudden deaths. In response, 2 kg of the toxin binder X-Bond Premium from Vilomix has been added this season, to ensure better stability.

Citric acid has also been added to the minerals for gestating and lactating sows, as urinary system disorder had previously been diagnosed, especially in young females and young sows.  

The size of liveborn pigs in the farrowing unit has improved significantly. We rarely experience very small pigs at farrowing

Low sow mortality rate

Using additives preventively in the feed and to optimise management have proven to give results, and not just in the farrowing unit. The sow mortality rate has gone from 20% to 8% in just one year. A result that improves morale amongst the personnel.
 
The size of liveborn pigs in the farrowing unit has improved significantly. “We rarely experience very small pigs at farrowing”, says Jørgen. With 35 nursing days, the piglets are well on their way to eating and drinking, especially during the last 14 days prior to weaning.
 
They are fed 6 times daily, starting after castration. Gruel feed is given in the last week prior to weaning, to increase feed intake – and it works! The gruel feed consists of a starter mix from Vilomix, which is also used after weaning (A Danstart concentrate with 30%, fat, wheat/barley), a little milk powder (Elitemilk Cup Favorite) and water, mixed into a thick gruel. 
 
Ever since the end of last year, Jørgen has been using Elitemilk Cup Favorite from Vilomix in his milk cup system. This is a unit mix, which can be used from when the pigs have received colostrum and up to weaning. Only one type of milk can be used for this herd. That's why it’s extra important that the milk is primarily based on lactose, and only contains a very limited amount of protein from wheat and soya.

A high number of nursing days means a lot of milk going through the system, but Jørgen is in no doubt that it's a worthwhile investment.

The advantages from using the milk:

  • Heavier pigs at weaning
  • Smoother transition from the early weaning unit, because the pigs have learned to eat and drink
  • The high number of nursing days does not affect the sows’ udders. Supplementing with milk and feed means that the pigs always have an alternative

No pigs are moved back in the system in the farrowing unit. Therefore, they are all weaned from a weekly group. The smallest are weaned in a baby container, where they receive a little extra attention in a comfortable environment before being moved to the weaning-to-finishing house. The result has been better health in the farrowing unit.

Fun facts from the Danish farmer:

Nursing sows are given a couple of glasses of rosé before the new piglets are put to the teat. Jørgen finds that it creates a good atmosphere, encouraging the sow to accept the new piglets faster.

Interested in learning more:

Contact us or read more on the toxin binder X-Bond Premium or the milk replacer Elitemilk Cup Favorite

Operations Manager Jesper Flindt is seen in the photo.

Related articles

Receive our e-newsletter

Get the latest valuable insights when our nutritionists share their knowledge and experience on healthy nutrition for swine and cattle.