BQP innovation in trough feedingDecember 21, 2011
Right from the onset of keeping sows outdoors for breeding it has been common practise to feed the sows on the ground. While this was not perceived to be a problem and works satisfactorily, it does have inefficiencies and challenges associated with it.
As part of the EEDA match funded Eco Pig project we were tasked with finding a method of feeding outdoor sows other than on the floor (see right)– and so trough feeding was started (see bottom right photo). Sounds simple, far from it.
In the past two years we have looked at size, shape and style of trough. We have looked at drainage holes, thickness of steel, hot dipped galvanised or pre galvanised sheets. We have also done numerous trials on space requirements finally concluding that 0.75m per sow is a recommended amount but that some groups of bigger sows may require more, for these particular groups extra troughs are available and work is on going on this.
Where sows are fed from day one in troughs it has been noted that there is far less aggression and as the animals get older they become trained to the trough method of feeding.
Where we have fed in troughs we have ticked a lot of boxes:
A) Birds no longer expect to get free food
B) All food fed to the sows gets eaten by the sows.
C) No nutrient leaching into the soil.
D) Reduced feed manufacturing costs by feeding a smaller product.
E) Reduced feed usage.
F) Reduced carbon footprint.
A lot of work has also gone into converting the ‘nut chuckers’ which were originally designed to throw the food into the field at distances of up to 30 metres from the roadway. These ‘nut chuckers’ have now become ‘trough fillers’ which only need to put feed into a trough 2 or 3 metres from the roadway.
We have also changed the way we feed our sows in the farrowing paddocks (Maternity wing). These were also fed on the floor but again to tick all the boxes these had to be fed in troughs or farrow feeders. Many hours went into trialling and developing these feeders, some development work is still taking place.
We are leading the way in these methods of feeding and in the next 12 months all of our sows will be feeding from troughs. Photographs to follow.
William Playford, BQP Fieldsperson