A move to 21-day weaning along with an increasing born live, sent Great Lake Pork, headquartered in Allendale, Michigan in search of the best method for ad-lib feeding in farrowing.
"Improved sow genetics resulted in more pigs farrowed plus we wanted to boost pig weights by weaning later. We needed to push more feed to the sows and increase consumption," commented Great Lakes Pork, partner Joel Phelps.
After trialing several different feeder and water combinations, Great Lake Pork settled on a stainless steel dispenser with a floor mounted cup waterer.
"We feel the stainless steel products are more durable and easier to install on the different feed bowls in our system. The sow activated trigger mechanism is more reliable than models incorporating plastic balls or electronic timers, " said Joel.
"We have barns where the ad-lib hoppers are hand-filled and those with automated delivery systems; the results are the same, one just requires a little more labor. We fill the feeder starting on day one and let the sow have all the feed she wants. That's the beauty of ad-lib, there's no guessing like with hand-feeding, sows eat as individuals when they are ready."
"Although we don't weigh individual litters, we know the sows are milking well, and they are doing it without losing body weight. They are coming out of the farrowing houses in very good condition which helps in the breeding barn."
Joel finished by saying; “ As soon as we finished the trial and decided on the equipment we made the switch across the entire system, 18 sow farms in all. That was over three years ago and we’ve never regretted it. It has been a good decision for us.”