Weaning is a stressful time for piglets and a check in growth rates is common. Mixing with piglets from other litters means fighting to establish their social rank. Piglets weaned at less than three weeks of age are not usually established on solid feed. The room temperature required to keep them comfortable while they begin to eat regularly and develop a stable social group, is often higher than when they left the farrowing barn.
If these piglets are stressed by cooler temperatures than needed, they become vulnerable to scours and other disease organisms (PEDv). As well, feed intake drops. In turn, growth rate, health and overall performance will be compromised. Use of the Hog Hearth® heat mats for early weaned piglets can improve comfort and nursery performance.
The improved weight gains and uniformity at the end of the nursery period can translate into better grow-finish performance and net returns per hog marketed. When combined with heat mat usage in the farrowing barn, the cost benefits, energy saving and pig performance should be enhanced even further.
Connor, Ph.D., Dept. of Animal Science, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg