Padiham, England -- (SBWIRE) -- 04/24/2015 -- Research by the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) in Hillsborough last month found that piglets born heavy but weaned to be lighter are actually less likely to perform as well as piglets born light but weaned to be heavier.
What does this mean for the pig farming industry? Particularly with the strain on the pig farming market over the past year, farmers may be tempted to breed their pigs to birth as many piglets as possible. However, the AFBI's research, combined with that of Doctor Mark Hawe, adviser to the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland, has strongly suggested that this is not the solution to the problem.
The research shows that the breeding focus should now be on the size and weight of the piglets during the weaning period, rather than the number of piglets per litter. "Instead of aiming solely for large litters, which can lead to some very small piglets at birth, there will be a better lifetime performance by focusing on larger weaning weights," says Dr Hawe.
There is also good news for the adult females, as the care and attention expands to those from whom the piglets are suckling; both sows and gilts are not to have too many piglets to feed at any one time, so they can produce adequate amounts of milk for the piglets and are not being over exhausted. They will also be fed more often and a better quality of food, as the healthier the pig, the healthier the piglets who suckle from it. Milk flow and quality is also affected by hydration, so fresh, clean water should always be in ready supply for the sow.
Case studies have also shown that smaller piglets in a litter will get bullied during feeds, so will not be able to gain the nutrition and strength they need; the best solution proved to be grouping all the smaller piglets together to feed. Similarly, sows have bigger teats than gilts, so smaller piglets should be matched to suckle with gilts and bigger piglets with sows.
Darren Hargreaves, Hog Master from hog roast company The Yorkshire Pig, was glad to hear about the progressive research: "This careful management of the piglets at a young age is providing healthier, better performing pigs for the future.This is great not only for the future of the pig meat industry, but inevitably breeds succulent, tasty pigs for roasting when the time comes.
"Just because they are bred for meat doesn't mean they shouldn't be looked after whilst they are being reared; well cared for livestock always results in better quality meat in the end."
About The Yorkshire Pigare
The Yorkshire Pigare a local, professional provider of hog roasts and pulled pork buffets across the North. They cater for all occasions, including weddings, corporate events and garden parties, visit their website for more information http://www.hogroastsyorkshire.co.uk
Company name: The Yorkshire Pig
Tel: 0113 283 9972
Contact Person: Darren Hargreaves
Address: 153 Lancaster Drive