Five Steps to Help Fallout Pigs Recover

Young Animal : Management

Brenda de Rodas, Ph.D.

Director, Swine Technical Innovation

In nursery performance, consistency is key. Pigs that fall behind the rest of the group can lag through future phases and require additional days to finishing.

To promote uniform groups, work toward a goal of 0.5 percent or fewer piglet fallouts in the nursery.

Fallout rates are a top performance indicator in a wean-to-finish facility. I spend a lot of time looking at fallout rates and evaluating why they occur within a system. Many factors - including nutrition, feed budget, environment and even the pigs themselves – can impact fallout rates. To achieve the 0.5 percent or fewer standard, actively engage with pigs from day one.

Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Feed small pigs differently from the start

No matter the facility, some pigs will always be smaller than the rest of the group at weaning. Consider separating the bottom 10 percent of pigs and starting them off a bit differently from the main group.
To help these small pigs flourish, they need more attention when it comes to feed and environment.

2. Watch for additional fallouts

After dividing the group by size, nursery management can help identify potential problems. Check each pig at least daily to ensure they are active, eating and drinking.
Keep in mind, it’s not enough to glance through your barn. Look at each pig from snout to tail and spine to hoof each day. If a problem is noticed, a fast intervention can help remedy the problem. We need to make sure intervention is fast in order to successfully keep fallout rates below 0.5 percent.

3. Determine the fallout cause

If high fallout rates are recorded, a facility evaluation may help determine an underlying issue.

Foremost, make sure pigs have enough feed and water space. Supply at least one waterer for every 10 pigs and 1 inch of feeder space per pig for pigs ranging from 40 to 50 pounds.
Next, look at the environment to make sure what is happening in the pen is not negatively impacting the pig’s growth and development. Sometimes the problem is just pen dynamics, and all we need to do is allow that pig the opportunity to be in another pen.

4. Manage fallouts critically

Fallout pigs – whether separated at weaning or during the production process – should be given focused nutrition, hydration and care similar to other nursery pigs but with greater attention.

We recommend giving pigs gel, electrolytes and highly palatable starter feed during times of stress. Mat-feeding gel, especially, provides both hydration and nutritional components, allowing for an easier transition back onto dry feed.

5. Reintroduce pigs to the general population

Once recovered, fallout pigs can begin the transition back to the general population.

I like to see fallout pigs transitioned into a recovery pen before rejoining the rest of the pigs. This allows us as caretakers to observe the pigs and make sure they are transitioning well away from the hospital pen.
Hydration is important for all young pigs, whether or not they are fallouts. Learn about tools to optimize hydration.