MANAGEMENT                                        PIH-20


Starting Purchased Feeder Pigs

Michael C. Brumm, University of Nebraska
Marianne Y. Ash, Camden, Indiana
George W. Jesse, University of Missouri
William G. Luce, Oklahoma State University

Bill and Karilyn Moeller, Springdale, Arkansas
A. D. Pete Moles, Marshall, Missouri
Ron Wagner, Francis Creek, Wisconsin

     More than one-fourth of all market hogs in the United States
were purchased as feeder pigs. While a majority of these pigs are
fed in facilities relatively close to the purchase site, a  large
number are transported long distances for finishing.

     Transporting and commingling practices expose young pigs  to
a  variety of stresses. Feeder pigs may experience hunger, thirst
and fatigue along with changes in diet, social order,  pen  mates
and  environment.  In  addition,  commingled pigs often encounter
disease organisms to which they have  not  developed  resistance.
Therefore,  an  effective  purchasing  and  receiving  program is
recommended to minimize the ill effects of these  stresses.   The
following are guidelines for purchasing and starting feeder pigs.

     Feeder pigs are purchased from a variety of sources. Table 1
lists  the  percentage breakdown of pig sources for purchasers of
feeder pigs.

Table 1. Sources of Feeder Pigs
Source                        North Central            Southeast
Direct from producer               52                     28
Auction markets                    36                     57
Other                              12                     15
Van Arsdall and Nelson, 1984

     Many problems can be avoided by careful purchase. The  ideal
group of feeder pigs:

     1.   originated from a single source,

     2.   have barrows castrated and healed,

     3.   are relatively free of internal and external parasites,

     4.   weighed at least 40 lb. at 8 weeks of age,

     5.   have tails docked.

     Purchase the lightest weight pig that your  facilities  will
accommodate  (preferably  greater  than  50 lb. if transported an
extended distance). Historically, the cost of weight  gain  in  a
finishing facility is less than the cost of that same weight pur-
chased as a heavier feeder pig. The average feeder pig  purchased
in the United States has a 48-50 lb. payweight.

Management and Housing

     The newly arrived pig, especially if it was transported  any
distance  or held off feed and water for a time period, will have
a lower arrival  weight  than  payweight.   Thus,  management  at
arrival must recognize that shrink (weight loss from payweight to
arrival weight)  occurred  and  be  targeted  at  minimizing  the
effects of this shrink.

     The average shrink for feeder pigs  purchased  from  auction
markets  and  transported long distances (greater than 600 miles)
has been 10-11% (4-5 lb.). For pigs purchased locally, it is  not
uncommon for the pigs to weigh 1-2 lb. less at arrival because of
the stress and shrink  associated  with  loading,  unloading  and

     Be prepared for  the  arriving  pigs.  Prior  to  the  pigs'
arrival,  thoroughly  clean  and  disinfect  the  facility.  Upon
arrival, especially in cold weather, provide  a  dry,  draft-free
sleeping  area.  In cold weather, supplemental heat and/or hovers
and/or bedding may be necessary. For  non-bedded  inside  facili-
ties,  provide  3-4 sq. ft. of floor area for 30-60 lb. pigs. For
facilities using straw bedding and outside lots, provide 3-4  sq.
ft.  of  sleeping space up to an average weight of 100 lb. and at
least double this amount of space in the outside area.

     Group pigs by size at arrival. Limit the weight range within
a  pen  to  plus  or  minus 10-15%, if possible. Put no more than
25-30 pigs per pen, especially inside pens.  More than  this  may
reduce performance due to excessive fighting and other aggressive

     One watering space is required per 10-15 pigs, especially if
nipple  or  bite  drinking  devices  are  used. If nipple or bite
watering devices are provided, they should have a delivery  capa-
city  of  two or more cups of water per minute.  It may be neces-
sary to let these watering devices drip for  a  short  time  (2-6
hours)  until  the  pigs learn to drink from them. Provide clean,
palatable water.

     Provide at least one feeder space for every 3-4 pigs. If the
feeders  have lids, it may be necessary to secure them in an open
position until the pigs are eating properly. Floor feeding  twice
a day in the sleeping area on solid floors for the first few days
promotes good dunging habits  and  allows  the  manager  to  more
closely  monitor  feed  intake.  It also encourages more frequent
observation of the pigs. Research has demonstrated  that  perfor-
mance to market weight is not different for this management prac-
tice when compared to ad libitum feed offering upon arrival.


     Formulate the diet for the newly arrived pigs based  on  the
expected nutritional needs of the lightest 25% of the pigs. While
the average payweight of a group of pigs may be 50  lb.,  if  the
bottom  25%  average  30-35 lb. at arrival, a diet formulated for
the 50 lb. pig will put these bottom pigs at a nutritional disad-
vantage.   Increasing  or  decreasing  the  protein level for the
first week following arrival generally does not  improve  perfor-

     The addition of 20% ground whole oats or  10%  good  quality
alfalfa  hay  (not  alfalfa meal) to the receiving diet for a 2-4
week period may aid in the reduction of the typical  post-arrival
scour. While this fiber addition will not adversely influence the
rate of gain or feed efficiency from purchase to market,  it  has
been shown to delay the onset of the typical post-arrival scour.

     Research has not demonstrated any improvement in performance
to  market  weight by the addition of vitamins and trace minerals
at levels higher than those normally recommended for growing  pig
diets.  In  addition,  there  has  been  no  consistent  improved
response from the addition of potassium chloride to the receiving

     The use of an antimicrobial feed additive in  the  receiving
diet  is  recommended.   The feed additive selected, and level of
usage, depends on the individual farm situation, source of feeder
pigs and additive availability. Seek professional help in select-
ing this additive, especially if it is added for control or erad-
ication of a disease causing organism.

     Regulations concerning additives and approved levels  change
"Feed Additives for Swine" for further information.

     After the 2 to 4 week receiving period, pigs may be switched
to  a  balanced grower diet. Suggested diets are given in PIH-23,
``Swine Diets.''


     The major health problems  affecting  newly  arrived  feeder
pigs  are respiratory distress (pneumonia) and diarrhea (scours).
Even though post-arrival scours are common,  serious  respiratory
and  diarrhea-related  health  problems  may  not occur until 6-8
weeks post-arrival.

     Expect death losses. Currently, records  indicate  that  the
average purchaser of feeder pigs loses 3-4% of the pigs purchased
to a variety of  health  causes.   Many  producers  target  death
losses  at 1% of the number purchased, and then they aggressively
pursue treatment options when death loss is higher than 1.5%.

     All-in/all-out management is strongly  recommended.  Do  not
put  newly  arrived pigs in a facility which contains pigs from a
previous purchase.  Never put purchased feeder pigs in  the  same
facility  or  on  the same building site as home-raised finishing

     FREQUENT OBSERVATION IS ESSENTIAL. Close scrutiny  at  least
twice  a  day  for  the  first few weeks and daily thereafter may
prevent a serious disease outbreak.  Monitor feed and water  con-
sumption,  as  reduced consumption of either is a sign of a prob-
lem. Provide a separate pen for sick  animals.  It  may  also  be
beneficial  to  provide  zone  heat  in this pen to help the sick
animal overcome the stress of illness.

     Be prepared to act immediately in the event of illness. Have
personnel  trained  to  recognize  the symptoms of major growing-
finishing diseases and the most appropriate action to take in the
event  symptoms appear. Do not hesitate to consult with a veteri-
narian if in doubt as to the appropriate treatment. Have  necrop-
sies done on dead pigs to accurately determine the cause of death
and the most effective treatment.

     The routine addition of a medication  (antibiotic  or  other
product) to the drinking water for prevention of a health problem
is not recommended. The addition of an electrolyte product to the
drinking  water  at  arrival  has  not been shown to consistently
improve performance or health to market weight.  However, have  a
water  medication  system available in the event water medication
is prescribed for the control or treatment of a  specific  health

     Water medication equipment which allows measurement of  con-
sumption  is preferred. Depending on weather conditions, a 40 lb.
pig will consume nearly 1/2 gal. of water per  day,  with  higher
consumption and waste in warm weather.  If average consumption is
much less than this when water medicating, other avenues of medi-
cation should be pursued.

     If palatability of the water medication is limiting  intake,
a  flavoring  agent  such  as  corn syrup or flavored gelatin may
increase consumption. Refrain from use of citrus flavored gelatin
as a flavoring agent since its use may result in decreased intake
due to palatability.

     Avoid combining drugs or formulations unless approved on the
label  or  prescribed  by  a  veterinarian. Many combinations are
incompatible in solution and the effectiveness  of  the  combined
DIRECTIONS AND CAUTIONS, even if you  have  previously  used  the

     The routine injection of feeder  pigs  with  a  long  acting
antibiotic  formulation, either prior to transport or at arrival,
has not been demonstrated to prevent or reduce subsequent  health
problems  or  to  improve  performance  to market.  However, in a
disease outbreak, individual animals may  require  injections  of
appropriate  antibiotics. Unless special long-acting formulations
of drug products are used, these injections need to be  continued
for a minimum of three days.

     Treat pigs for both internal and external  parasites.  Treat
the  pigs  for  worms shortly after arrival with a broad spectrum
anthelmintic if the species of worms is unknown. Plan on treating
again  in  3-6  weeks  to prevent reinfestation from shed eggs or
larva. Use an anthelmintic that has proven activity against  whip
worms at one of these two wormings. Treat for lice and mange with
an approved  product  shortly  after  arrival.  Refer  to  PIH-40
"External   Parasite  Control  on  Swine"  and  PIH-44  "Internal
Parasites" for specific recommendations.

     If the feeder  pigs  are  purchased  from  unknown  sources,
assume  the  worst in terms of health. The newly arrived pigs may
be  carriers  of  swine  dysentery,   pseudorabies,   salmonella,
actinobacillus pleuropneumonia, TGE or other contagious diseases.
(Refer to other PIH fact sheets on these specific diseases on how
to prevent their introduction into a facility).

     Because of potential disease risks to swine already  on  the
premises,  isolation  of  the  purchased pigs, either in separate
lots or facilities, is recommended for at least 30 days. There is
a  definite  financial risk to producers who purchase feeder pigs
and house these pigs adjacent to breeding stock  because  of  the
increased health risks.

REV 6/91 (7M)


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