Poor pig growth may be associated with poor food conversion efficiency and system inefficiencies from culling light pigs and from keeping animals for a longer period of time on farm. Lightweight pigs increase the variability within a group and this can be associated with inefficient pen utilization in batch systems and financial penalties at the abattoir for poor grading specification.
The study is looking to develop treatments for light pigs that will decrease the deficit in their growth. To propose appropriate treatments for these pigs it is necessary to identify the reasons that contributed to the delay in growth and if pigs would benefit from remedial measures.
Epidemiological data from both commercial and university farms will be collected and analyzed for factors that are associated with light weight pigs. Such information will include birth weights, intermediate weights and finishing weights of pigs, litter sizes and management factors. On the basis of the risk factors identified appropriate treatments for light pigs will then be developed and tested.
The main focus of this will be those pigs that have recovered from previous growth constraints, including health challenges. The treatments will be applied at different stages of growth in order to address when they will be most beneficial. The treatments with the highest likelihood of success will then be tested in a large scale study conducted under commercial conditions.
Appropriate treatments of light pigs that accrue benefits on their growth will have a higher chance of adoption by the pig industry and will lead to economic, animal welfare and environmental benefits.