For every stage in the life cycle of pigs, there are certain nutritional requirements that need to be met for them to reach their ideal health and weight. Gilts have different needs, as do piglets, and weaners. Here, we talk about what pigs in the growing stage (growers) need in terms of supplementation.
The grower stage
A grower is a pig between weaning and sale or transfer to the breeding herd, which is later sold in the market. It starts when the pig is at around 55 kg, then once it reaches over 70 kilos in liveweight, it is classified as a finisher (porker). Growers are smaller than porkers so they require less space in the farm per pig, so you end up with savings from having two types of pens even if it means moving the pigs twice.
Feeding and rations for growers
At this stage, the pig’s nutrient requirements are changing rapidly so in terms of feeding, focus on increasing intakes. Their daily energy requirement is about14.2MJ/kg depending on the system. For feeds, they don’t require complex ingredients anymore, but they do need higher levels of protein, which can be found in soya and balanced with synthetic amino acids like lysine. Feed intakes at the grower stage are also likely to be around 1.2kg/day.
Grower supplementation guide
As with humans, supplements are given to support or add on to the nutrition from feeding. Vitamins and supplements will vary for each pig, their health, environment, age, weight, and feed. There are no absolute rules to providing supplements, but you should also consider that some vitamins in minerals in feeds may be compromised for one reason or another (improper storage, moisture, heat, shelf life, etc.). For this reason, some opt to supplement their pig’s diet to ensure they are getting the vitamins and nutrients they need.
To guide you, here is a breakdown of the essential nutrients growers need for their optimal health and growth:
Protein and amino acids
Growers require higher levels of protein and amino acids, and often have large growth responses to increasing dietary energy because of their relatively low feed intake in relation to their high growth capacity. Amino acids are required for maintenance, muscle growth, fetus development, supporting tissues in gestating sows, and milk production in lactating sows.
There are 10 dietary supplemental amino acids for pigs, which are arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine. These amino acids are commonly found in modern feed formulations, so be sure to check if your feeds contain them.
Some vitamins that are essential across all stages include:
- Vitamin A for vision, reproduction, growth, and maintenance of epithelial tissue, and mucous secretions.
- Vitamin D for good bone development and ossification.
- Biotin for improved reproductive performance and decreased footpad lesions in adult pigs.
- Riboflavin. Normal swine diets are normally deficient in this vitamin which is a component for two important enzyme systems involved with carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
- Vitamin B12 for metabolic function
- Choline for normal functioning of tissues
Macro- and trace minerals
Some minerals that are essential across all stages include:
- Calcium and phosphorus are often used for skeletal growth, but they also have key roles in metabolism.
- Chromium helps improve carcass leanness in growing and finishing pigs.
- Potassium helps in nerve-muscle function and electrolyte balance.
- Magnesium is part of the mineral make-up of bone and is a co-factor in several enzymes that are involved in glucose and energy metabolism and protein synthesis.
Like with medication, supplements should be discussed with your veterinarian, especially if you have questions about your pigs’ individual needs.
For more helpful tips and guides on the nutrition and supplementation for pigs, click here.