Recent studies at Kansas State University took a closer look at how feeder adjustments affected pig performance and feed wastage.
In those studies, pigs were fed from a 5-hole, single-sided, stainless steel, dry self-feeder. The feeder pan dimensions were 60-in. long, 7-in. wide (deep) and 5.75-in. high.
The feeders were set at one of three feeder settings using the factory-cut holes in a dial designed for that purpose. The dial had five hole settings, with setting #5 being the most closed setting (Figure 1) and setting #1 being the most open (Figure 3), with about 90% of the pan covered with feed. At setting #3, about 50% of the pan was covered. Settings #1, #3 and #5 were used in the study.
Feed gates are designed to have some “play” to allow feed agitation, so left and right gap measurements were collected and averaged, ensuring that the data could be applied to other types/brands of dry feeders.
Two experiments involving a total of 2,420 grow-finish barrows and gilts were conducted, with 23-28 pigs/pen.
As feeder opening increased, average daily gain and feed efficiency improved, with both traits optimized at the middle feeder setting (setting #3).
When economics are applied to the data set, the poorer feed efficiency of feeder setting #1 (widest opening) resulted in approximately $1.50 higher feed costs than pigs fed at feeder setting #3 (Table 1).
Pigs fed with feeder setting #5 (tightest setting) also had about $1.50 in added cost compared with feeder setting #3 because of reduced average daily gain.
In conclusion, feeding pigs from feeders with a more open feeder setting increased average daily gain and average daily feed intake, and tended to improve feed-to-gain ratio at middle feeder settings compared with more closed feeder settings. The gap for the middle setting (#3), from the feed trough to the bottom of the feed gate, was about 1.15 in. Still, there was considerable range of feed pan coverage at the #3 setting, when feeders in the trials were compared.
As a rule of thumb with the dry feeders used in this study, feed should cover slightly more than half of the feed pan without accumulating at the corners (Figure 2).