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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #169083


item Marchant, Jeremy
item Marchant-Forde, Ruth

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/25/2004
Publication Date: 8/26/2004
Citation: Brumm, M.C., Richert, B.T., Marchant Forde, J.N., Marchant Forde, R. 2004. Out-of-feed events in grow-finish pigs: causes & consequences. 45th George A. Young Swine Health & Management Conferece. p. 6-15.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: A majority of finishing facilities have bulk bins and automated feed delivery systems. In theory, these bins and delivery systems should assure an uninterrupted flow of feed to the feeder. In practice, growing-finishing pigs have varying disruptions in feed availability, some of which may have serious consequences. There appears to be three major causes for out-of-feed events in grower-finisher facilities: 1) human errors, 2) bridging of feed, and 3) equipment malfunction. Human errors generally occur when feed is not ordered, prepared, and delivered in a timely manner. A second cause of out-of-feed events is bridging of ground feed in bulk bins. In this case, feed is in the bin, but because of issues associated with flow ability, it does not flow out of the bin into the feed delivery line. The final cause of out-of-feed events is equipment malfunction, which generally increases as facilities age. The consequences of out-of-feed events have not been experimentally quantified but data from elsewhere suggest that feed restriction leads to high levels of hunger-driven feeding motivation, which in finishing pigs may manifest itself as increases in pen-mate manipulation and activity whilst feed is unavailable. Also, once feed is reinstated, there is anecdotal evidence that there are high levels of aggression as pigs fight for access to the feeder. This may induce physiological stress responses, particularly in those pigs low in social status. Time without feed has also been implicated in the development of gastric ulcers and hemorrhagic bowel syndrome. For the producer, together with any economic consequences of the above, there may also be increased costs associated with increased feed wastage once supply is re-established and increases in time taken for pigs to reach slaughter weight. Out-of-feed events are therefore likely to have a greater impact than previously thought and a trial is currently underway at the University of Nebraska to quantify this.