New Research Proves Benefits of Wet/Dry Feeding (Again)

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While the pandemic created many challenges for our business (like it did for the rest of our pig farming industry and the world for that matter), it didn’t diminish our drive to learn as much as possible about wet-dry feeding. Throughout 2020 and 2021, we worked with Pipestone Applied Research (PAR) to performance test our newest feeder—the WF2-Series wean-to-finish feeder—against our conventional box-style dry feeder, the F7-series.

In addition to the traditional Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of Average Daily Gain (ADG), Average Daily Feed Intake (ADFI), and Feed Conversion (F:C), we looked at two more performance measures:

  • Caloric Conversion: This offers a more universal measure beyond the traditional F:C calculation because there is such a variety of feed ingredients and therefore a wide variety of caloric values in feed formulations in different regions of the world.
  • Water Disappearance: While we had measured water disappearance in previous research studies, we had not yet measured it in feeders using our Adaptive-Flow™ water nipples, which were introduced in our wet/dry feeders in 2018. Additionally, this research protocol followed our management recommendations regarding supplemental water in pens with wet/dry feeders.

In order to provide the truest understanding and most accurate calculation of the feeder’s impact on the “full value” of the pig in meat production, feeder performance was evaluated with data collected for both live weight and hot carcass weight.

Overall Performance Summary

Confirming previous research, the data showed that pigs fed on wet/dry feeders had better ADG (1.1%) than those fed on a dry feeder, which resulted in heavier market weights by an average of 2.04 lbs in the same number of days on feed. Interestingly though, unlike previous research this study did not show improved ADFI in the wet/dry feeder. This may be indicative of some feed wastage in the dry feeder considering the improvement in ADG and average market weight in the wet/dry feeder.

The study also showed that pigs fed from the wet/dry feeder had statistically significant improvement in feed and caloric conversion on both a live and carcass weight basis compared to pigs fed on the dry feeders. Live weights had a 2.4% improvement in feed conversion and a 2.2% improvement in caloric conversion while hot carcass weights had a 2.4% improvement in feed conversion and 2.3% improvement in caloric conversion. This shows statistically significant heavier hot carcass weights (1.8lbs/.82kg) for pigs fed on the wet/dry feeder.

In considering the improvement in hot carcass weights, the data shows a significant improvement in the “Full Value“ of the pigs fed on the wet/dry feeder with 25% less death loss compared to the dry feeders.

One additional data point of interest was the measurement of back fat. Previous studies had shown that pigs fed on a wet/dry feeder had more back fat than those fed on dry feeders but this study found that was not the case. In fact, back fat measured on the pig feed on the wet/dry feeders in this study was slightly less than those fed on the dry feeders.

Water Disappearance

In addition, the study showed that water usage or “disappearance” was 53.4% less in pens with wet/dry feeders than in pens with dry feeders and separate waterers. Previous research that we did (Wastell, 2002) as well as research completed by Kansas State (Rantanen et.al, 1994) showed this difference to be 35.6% and 38.3%, respectively.

The key difference between this study and those previous ones was that this newest study used wet/dry feeders with Crystal Springs Adaptive-Flow™ drinker nipples rather than wet-dry feeders with conventional drinker nipples. Additionally, this new study’s research protocol followed our recommendations for how to use supplemental waterers in the wet/dry pens—turning on the supplemental water source when the pigs reach 180lbs (82kgs) and/or when the outside temperature reaches 85oF (29oC).

The research data is important because it shows that basic equipment like feeders can be thoughtfully engineered to improve sustainability by reducing the overall water used in pork production, not excluding the resources required to manage manure with high water content.

CONCLUSION

While it’s true that with the amount of research we’ve done over the years some of this study’s results not surprising—namely better ADG and higher market weights—we were pleasantly surprised at the results in the improvement of the “Full Value” of the pigs as well as the significant reduction in water usage. It’s these surpassed expectations and happy surprises that motivate us to continue asking questions, continue innovating, and continue researching our equipment solutions.

Research has always been a foundational principle at Crystal Spring Hog Equipment and will continue to be in the future. Modern pig farmers face many challenges—from dealing with biosecurity in order to protect their animals from catastrophic diseases such as African Swine Fever and Foot-and Mouth Disease to barn management challenges including navigating today’s complex labor market. Our team is committed to listening to our customers worldwide in order to understand their needs and offer effective solutions, proven with unbiased research such as this study by Pipestone Applied Research.

Our many thanks to the team at PAR for their professionalism and diligence in doing this research.

Questions about the data or need more information on this research? Contact Todd at todd@cshe.com – WhatsApp/Phone +1 (402) 972-6510 or Natalia at natalia@cshe.com WhatsApp/Phone +1 (402) 980-1245.

For more information about our products visit our website at www.crystalspring.com.