As part of their commitment to “better fed, better bred and better red” pork, Waratah Farms are rearing piglets with AgriVantage’s Milkiwean Yoghurt supplementary feed.
Operations Manager Stuart Shaw says feeding Milkiwean is a key reason they now regularly better their target of 11 pigs per sow.
Waratah Farms have a breeding herd of 1200 sows (600 purebred sows) on site. 52 sows are farrowing each week with up to 250 lactating at any one time, rearing around 11 piglets per sow. The pigs are farmed indoors; the piglets stay with the sow until they are weaned at around 25-26 days old, weighing 7-8kgLW.
Waratah Farms piglets feeding on Milkiwean (7 days old)
The biggest rearing challenge here is ensuring each sow grows her litter of 11-12 piglets into strong, healthy animals says Stuart. “Prior to using Milkiwean, we rarely reached a weaning rate of 10.8 per sow.
“Now we can easily keep an extra pig in each litter and achieve above our weaning target of 11.”
Milkiwean Yoghurt is not a milk replacer, it’s a supplementary liquid feed for young piglets, offered in addition to sow milk 24 hours after birth (day 1) through ‘til day 14.
“Milkiwean can be tricky to manage” admits Stuart. “You have to keep it fresh, mix it in lesser amounts and feed it regularly. Once you get it right, it helps the piglets to thrive.”
Piglets at Waratah Farms are introduced to Milkiwean 24 hours after birth after their colostrum intake, as recommended by the manufacturer Trouw Nutrition.
“The piglets absolutely love Milkiwean! They dive straight into it at a day old” says Stuart. “I haven’t seen that with any other product.
He’s also noticed that since stopping teeth clipping there have been no adverse effects; “I can’t say why exactly but certainly since they’ve been on Milkiwean, the piglets don’t harass the sows as much.”
“We are seeing bigger, healthier and stronger pigs because of Milkiwean.”
Milkiwean Yoghurt is designed to maximise nutrition early in the piglet’s life.
The known benefits are better growth and organ development, less disease and piglet mortality (+ 1 piglet/litter), better growth (+ 500g/day up to 21 days), improved feed conversion in fattening and increased performance long term.
Stuart agrees with much of this. “We’re reaching our weaning targets all the time now. In the weaning shed, our ADG (average daily gain) is flying and we’re averaging 550g per day now. I’d put that down to good gut development from having the Milkiwean.
“We’ve also seen a big drop in scour treatments and associated costs.
“Mortality rates are below the NZ average at Waratah Farms, but we are seeing bigger, healthier and stronger pigs because of Milkiwean.”
Other AgriVantage products – Stalosan and Hydrocare – are also used on Waratah Farms. Stuart is a big advocate of each of these products too.
“With Hydrocare, we’re achieving cleaner and better water across the farm. We’re using Stalosan (an anti-bacterial drying agent) in our farrowing and weaning sheds, achieving good hygiene. The Stalosan also aids with fly control.
“Overall, AgriVantage products are helping ensure we have a strong animal health programme on farm.
“I would tell other farmers that using Milkiwean involves some effort, but once you achieve a strict regime with staff, you’ll be focusing on growing healthy pigs rather than treating them to achieve comparable results.”