Similar animal nutrition problems require scale-adapted solutions

Animal Nutrition Views

Ioannis Mavromichalis, Ph.D., gives his views on poultry, pig and dairy nutrition based on his experience as a nutrition consultant with clients around the world.

Similar animal nutrition problems require scale-adapted solutions

Early in my work as a consultant, I visited a pig producer who had only 25 sows. I am a nutritionist, so we sat down to discuss his problems pertaining to my field of expertise. His main issues were the following:

  • How to make weaned pigs to eat more and not scour
  • How to make lactating sows eat more and wean heavier piglets
  • How to make gestating sows eat less and not complain (!)
  • How to make growing-finishing pigs grow faster and more efficiently

A few years back, I visited with a pig producer that had over 300,000 sows. There, I worked with a team of nutritionists trying to identify areas that could be improved and ways to work around their problems. To my surprise, their problems were identical; the same four major issues as described above.

I use these two extreme cases, one very small and one very large producer, only to illustrate a point that is very clear to those working on an international scale: All producers face similar problems. It is only the scale of production that enforces a different approach to the solution.

For example, the smaller producer above agreed to feed his lactating sows three instead of two times a day. The labor was all his, and feeding 25 sows takes but very little time. In contrast, the large producer declined to follow this advice; labor would not agree to a change in routine, and they could not supervise the practice, anyway. But, they did agree to try a nutritional supplement that could potentially increase feed intake; happily, it did. The same suggestion had been rejected by the smaller producer.