Dr. Jim Nelssen

(Conrad) Good morning and welcome to Farm Factor on AGam in Kansas. I’m your host Conrad Kabus. Kansas State University Swine Industry Day was held November 21st at Kansas Alumni Center. Take a look. Low birth weight pig research and litter size increase are research efforts currently underway at Kansas State. (Jim) Actually what’s happened in the swine industry the last 15 years is there’s been tremendous genetic progress for increase selection for litter size. We went from eight pigs per litter born alive, to nine, 10, 11, 12. Now we’re getting 15, 16, 17 pigs born alive per litter. The challenge we have in the swine industry with that as we’ve increased the number of pigs, we’ve also increased the distribution of birth weight. And so the talk that we are presenting at the Swine Day…Swine Industry Day this year, is how you can overcome some of the challenges of low birth weight pigs, in modern… with modern research concepts. (Conrad) A full market pig is what producers strive for, but there are still many misconceptions with that concept. (Jim) A full market value pig is a pig that falls into the ideal market weight, the ideal packer grid to who they’re selling to when these pigs reach six to six and half months of age. And what our research has shown is that pigs that weigh less than two pounds at birth have a real challenge in the production system. First of all with survivability. Secondly they’re slower growing than their peers in the group because the other pigs weigh a pound to pound and a half more per pig at birth. They have lower poor feed efficiency and they have carcasses that have an increased fat composition. So what the economic analysis said, is at market time or when we get those pigs close to a full value pig, they’re actually worth $20 dollars less per pig marketed compared to their peer group. (Conrad) It is a common practice to increase feed by 0.5 to 1.0 kilograms that last two to three weeks of gestation to support the increased litter growth. When sows are in proper body condition, bump feed is rec.. However if sows and gilts are over condition bump feeding is not recommended. With the increase in feed cost many producers are questioning the importance of bump feeding as it will save $3 dollars to $5 per sow in feed costs. (Jim) What is happening on many production systems is people are focusing on how do we change birth weight by feeding sows more feed during late gestation? We call that bump feeding. Where you increase the amount of feed per gilt or per sow one kilogram or 2.2 pounds per animal during that last 30 days of gestation. That’s an attempt to increase the average birth rate and like wise reduce the variation of birth weight of pigs within the production system. The other thing is the farrowing house, once those little pigs are born- real intensive pig management. Such things as… typical things we make sure they find the underline and get colostrum. We get those pigs, we put them in little boxes and make sure they get warm, that they’re dry and that we actually get them warmed back up so that they have a chance for survivability. What our research is focusing on is much different than that. We are focusing on an area which is called fetal programming. And fetal programming is something that you change during pregnancy to change the ultimate physiological outcome of the pig. And what we mean by that is that there’s a number of hormones that if you change the levels during gestation that we can influence the birth weight of the pigs, the number of muscle fibers and the ultimate quality or come close to realizing a full value market pig. And that’s the research data that we’re talking about at this year’s Swine Day. (Conrad) Thank you for watching this episode of Farm Factor on AGam in Kansas. For more of Farm Factor or if you want to view this program again, visit us on www.agaminkansas.com or you can like Farm Factor on Facebook or follow AGam in Kansas on Twitter. So, have a good day with good luck.

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