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Post-weaning and whole-of-life performance of pigs is determined by live weight at weaning and the complexity of the diet fed after weaning

Collins, C.L., Pluske, J.R.ORCID: 0000-0002-7194-2164, Morrison, R.S., McDonald, T.N., Smits, R.J., Henman, D.J., Stensland, I. and Dunshea, F.R. (2017) Post-weaning and whole-of-life performance of pigs is determined by live weight at weaning and the complexity of the diet fed after weaning. Animal Nutrition, 3 (4). pp. 372-379.

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The production performance and financial outcomes associated with weaner diet complexity for pigs of different weight classes at weaning were examined in this experiment. A total of 720 weaner pigs (360 entire males and 360 females) were selected at weaning (27 ± 3 d) and allocated to pens of 10 based on individual weaning weight (light weaning weight: pigs below 6.5 kg; medium weaning weight: 6.5 to 8 kg; heavy weaning weight: above 8.5 kg). Pens were then allocated in a 3 × 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments with the respective factors being weaning weight (heavy, medium and light; H, M and L, respectively), weaner diet complexity (high complexity/cost, HC; low complexity/cost, LC), and gender (male and female). Common diets were fed to both treatment groups during the final 4 weeks of the weaner period (a period of 39 days). In the first 6 d after weaning, pigs offered the HC diets gained weight faster and used feed more efficiently than those offered the LC diets (P = 0.031). Pigs fed a HC diet after weaning tended to be heavier at the sale live weight of 123 d of age compared with pigs fed the LC diet (P = 0.056). There were no other main effects of the feeding program on growth performance through to slaughter. Weaning weight had a profound influence on lifetime growth performance and weight at 123 d of age, with H pigs at weaning increasing their weight advantage over the M and L pigs (101.3, 97.1, 89.6 kg respectively, P < 0.001). Cost-benefit analyses suggested there was a minimal benefit in terms of cost per unit live weight gain over lifetime when pigs were offered a HC feeding program to L, with a lower feed cost/kg gain. The results from this investigation confirm the impact of weaning weight on lifetime growth performance, and suggest that a HC feeding program should be focused on L weaner pigs (i.e., weaning weight less than 6.5 kg at 27 d of age) in order to maximise financial returns.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2017, Chinese Association of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine
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