Piglet producers may be able to save some money on their early feeding regime without compromising growth performance after weaning, according to trial results reported to the 2009 Northern Ireland Pig Event.

Dr Elizabeth Magowan from the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute at Hillsborough, Northern Ireland, spoke at the meeting about a comparison of starting feed levels for pigs weaned at 28 days old and tracked to 10 weeks of age.

Benchmarking of creep feed usage by 60 producers locally, representing about one-third of sow numbers in the province, has been done by Greenmount College and suggests an average in practice of 6kg/pig of a starter-1 or first-stage creep diet followed by 10kg/pig of a starter-2 type.

But the institute’s studies found no significant improvement in growth or feed efficiency from giving each pig more than 2kg of a starter-1 formulation containing 16.5MJ/kg DE and 22.5% crude protein (1.7% lysine). Also, no performance advantage was seen for feeding over 6kg of a starter-2 diet in which the formula provided 16.25MJ DE and 21% crude protein with 1.55% total lysine.

Omitting the starter-1 feed did result in a poorer performance, however. Body weight at 10 weeks old was almost 2kg higher for pigs that had received 2kg of starter-1 before going onto the regime applied to all groups, which meant a 4kg allowance of starter-2 followed by a grower diet. Moreover, the feed efficiency of the piglets not allowed the starter-1 was 8% poorer between weaning and 7 weeks old.