Effects of feeder-trough space and variation in body weight within a pen of pigs on performance in a wean-to-finish production system

B. F. Wolter, M. Ellis, S. E. Curtis, E. N. Parr, D. M. Webel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies were carried out with the same group of pigs within a wean-to-finish system. In Study 1 (weaning to wk 8 postweaning), the effect of feeder-trough space in pens that were double-stocked on pig growth was evaluated. In Study 2 (end of wk 8 to 112 ± 1.5 kg BW), the effect of variation in pig BW within a pen on growth was investigated. In Study 1, a randomized block design was used to compare two feeder-trough space treatments (Double [4 cm/pig] vs Control [2 cm/pig]). Pigs (n = 1,728) were randomly allocated at weaning (5.4 ± 0.01 kg BW; 16 d of age) to mixed-sex pens (8 pens/treatment) of 108 pigs/pen on the basis of BW. Floor-space (0.30 m 2/pig) and drinker allocation (13 pigs/drinker) were the same for both treatments. Two six-place (35 cm/place) feeders were positioned together in the center of each pen and were accessible from both sides. For the Double treatment, both feeders contained feed, whereas for the Control only one feeder contained feed. In Study 2, a randomized block design was used to compare three BW/variation in BW treatments: 1) Heavy BW/Low variation, 2) Light BW/Low variation, and 3) Mixed BW/Normal variation. The double-stocked pens of pigs from within previous feeder-trough space treatment were split into two groups of 54 pigs (equal sex ratio) having either high or low BW variation within pen. Pigs had free access to feed and water throughout the studies. In Study 1, doubling feeder-trough space did not affect (P > 0.05) pig growth from weaning to the end of wk 6. From wk 6 to 8, pigs on the Double treatment compared to the Control treatment had higher (P < 0.05) ADG and were heavier (P < 0.05), but had similar (P > 0.05) ADFI and gain:feed ratio. In Study 2, pen-BW treatment did not impact (P > 0.05) ADG or gain:feed ratio; however, Heavy/Low had greater (P < 0.01) ADFI than Light/Low with Mixed/Normal being intermediate for ADFI. At 112 kg BW, CV of BW within a pen was similar (P > 0.05) across treatments; however, days to market BW was greater (P < 0.001) for Light/Low than Heavy/Low with Mixed/Normal being intermediate. In summary, increasing feeder-trough space from 2 to 4 cm per pig increased daily gain after wk 6 postweaning in double-stocked pens of pigs; however, sorting pigs on the basis of BW when splitting pens did not impact growth rate or variation in BW within a pen at market BW.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2241-2246
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2002


  • Feed Troughs
  • Pigs
  • Weaning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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