PIG How-To's

Starting Nursery Pigs on Feed

1. Sort pigs by weight to minimize dominance at feeders and waterers.

  • Put smallest 10-15% of the pigs in separate pens.
  • Put small pigs toward the middle of the barn for intensive management


2. Use feeding mats along with self-feeders.

  • Mats should be cleaned and disinfected between uses.
  • Place only small amounts of nursery diet on mat as nursery feed is expensive and easily wasted on the mats.
  • Use mats only until pigs begin eating from a self-feeder.


3. Self-feeders

  • For the first few days add several small feedings per day of fresh feed.
  • Remove feed contaminated with feces or urine.
  • Do not limit feed at any time.
  • Monitor feed consumed daily until pigs are readily consuming feed.
  • Allow one foot of feeder space per four or five pigs.


4. Fresh water

  • If pigs do not have adequate clean, fresh water they will not eat.
  • Adjust height of nipple waterers to shoulder height of smallest piglets.
  • Adjust water pressure to less than 20 psi.
  • One cup waterer per 20 pigs or one nipple waterer per 10 to 15 pigs.


5. Pig level environment

  • Ensure piglets are not subjected to drafts or too warm or too cold conditions.
  • Observe piglets for shivering or excessive piling to keep warm.


6. Observe pigs to ensure all have found feed and water

  • Watch for sunken bellies, rough hair coats, etc., as indicators of poor feed intake.
  • Piglets not eating need individual feeding. Gently place a small amount of moist pellets in each pig’s mouth. Then place the piglet next to the feeder so it associates the feed with the feeder.



Management of Newly Received SEW and Feeder Pigs, PIH 111. August, 2000.