Swine Grist - Spring 2024

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Swine Grist



Dear Swine Producing Friends,

This edition of the Swine Grist is chock full of interesting articles authored by our growing team of experts within the GVF group of companies. Over the past several years, we have been blessed to add numerous experts to our team including the authors of this edition’s articles - JP Thibault in commodities, Emily Miller PhD. in nursery research administration, on-farm data collection & analysis, Samuel Waititu PhD. Swine Nutritionist (impacts of enzymes in growth & FCR in swine diet), and Jan Huisman, Production Improvement Specialist (in barn technical support). Additionally, Linsday MacDonald joined our customer service team a few years ago, focusing on improving our processes, systems and technology. Working with our bin sensor providers, Lindsay and her team have developed a great way for producers to delegate a portion of their workload to our

Expectations Around Farrowing: Birth Weights

Gestation is a long time in a sow's life. It is characterized by a restricted feed allowance, restricted movement (if housed in stalls), and fetal development. Sow nutrition has a profound influence on conception and fetal survival during early gestation, and in late gestation, sow nutrition can influence reproductive performance. In this series of articles (Expectations Around Farrowing), I desire to review and stimulate discussions on the nutrition-based variables within our control during late gestation until about four days post-farrow. To the commercial pork producer, the gestation period veils hope and expectations, which make it worth the cost, patience and laborious duties employed in caring for the gestating sows until farrowing. Many things can go wrong in

team while allowing our delivery team to be much more efficient.

With these and other experts on our expanding team, we continue to research, trial and innovate, ensuring that the producers that we are privileged to work with have the opportunity to optimize the performance and productivity of their herds, allowing their farming operations to be efficient, profitable and sustainable.

I trust that you will enjoy this edition of the Swine Grist. All of us at the GVF group of companies want to wish you a very smooth, and timely planting season and a very blessed Easter.


the gestation period and thus shatter these expectations. Hence, we need to discern the gestation-related challenges and take advantage of the nutritional opportunities that can eliminate or at least lessen their impact.

In this article, we will first explore low piglet birth weight. As we prepare to review these realities, I would like that we first demystify nutrition. Nutrition is not only about providing energy, water, and nutrients to the pigs, but it also entails aspects such as the source of the feed components, time of feeding and

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feed presentation design. Each of these factors complement each other, hence they must be purposely employed if our expectations are to be met.

Many producers do not weigh piglets at birth, instead they rely on what their eyes tell them when they walk the farrowing crates. Using eyes to determine optimum birth weight is not the best practice as it does not provide data that can estimate mortality risk and determine progress in the case of nutritional or management interventions. Nevertheless, no one likes to see small and low birth weight piglets because they have lower viability, growth, and survival to weaning. Feldpausch et al. (2019), postulated that the birth weight threshold for increased risk of preweaning mortality is ≤1.11 kg. Current research on highly prolific sows has provided convincing evidence that the increase in litter size is accompanied by a decrease in the average birth weight of piglets. For instance, Moreira et al (2020) demonstrated that an average increase of 4.8 piglets significantly reduced the average weight of total and born alive piglets by 9.67 and 12.4% respectively (Table 1).

This observation is convincing evidence that prolificacy is directly associated with reduction in piglet vitality, hence, increased risk of pre-weaning mortality. In conclusion, as many producers turn to highly prolific sows, we expect reduced piglet birth weights and increased intra-litter piglet birth weight variation. Piglets with low birth weights (≤1.11 kg) have low livability and survival rates, hence they contribute to higher pre-weaning mortality rates. There is convincing evidence that prolificacy as a genetic selection tool with too much pressure is directly associated with lower birth weights. In the next issue, we will explore the risks that low piglet birth weights pose to the performance and profitability of a herd and the available nutritional interventions that can mitigate those risks.

Table 1: Effect of litter size on the variability of piglet birth weights

The reduction of birth weights due to increased litter size cannot be fully eliminated by nutritional interventions because it is associated with uterine capacity. As litter size increases, more space is taken up by additional fetal placentas, hence, the reduced uterine space becomes a growth limiting resource that results in smaller piglets.

Konig et al. (2021) determined the effect of prolificacy on the vitality of piglets immediately after birth using a vitality score system from Baxter et al. (2008; Table 2).

Score Description


Table 2: Vitality score according to Baxter et al. (2008)

In their study, Konig et al. (2021) used 14 Danish genetic sows and 12 German Saddleback sows, which gave birth to 265 and 154 piglet, respectively. Table 3 summarizes the litter traits of the two groups of sows.


01. Feldpausch, Julie A., et al. "Birth weight threshold for identifying piglets at risk for preweaning mortality." Translational Animal Science 3.2 (2019): 633-640.

02. König, Nicola Lea, et al. "An investigation into uterine capacity based on litter and placental characteristics in two sow lines with different prolificacy (Danish Landrace x Danish Yorkshire versus German Saddleback)." Reproduction in Domestic Animals 56.1 (2021): 34-45.

03. Moreira, Rennan Herculano Rufino, et al. "Variability of piglet birth weights: A systematic review and meta‐analysis." Journal of animal physiology and animal nutrition 104.2 (2020): 657-666.

The Power of Proactive Feed Ordering

Managing all the aspects of running a business can be challenging and managing a feeding program just adds another layer of complexity. What is the name of the feed that you should be ordering? When did you order it last? Did you remember to place the order? At Grand Valley Fortifiers we understand that our customer’s time is limited, and sometimes ordering feed falls off the radar. We also recognize that customers are always looking for ways to keep costs down, while also trying to increase efficiencies on farm. As a result of these realities we are always looking for diverse ways to provide the best customer service experience possible. One way of doing this, is through our proactive ordering services.


The piglet vitality scores 1 and 2 clearly show that the highly prolific Danish genetic sows had significantly more piglets that were less viable compared to German Saddleback sows (Table 4).


Swine Grist Spring 2024 1–800–567–4400 | grandvalley.com
Variables Low prolificity High prolificity p-value CV (%) † Number of sows (n) 38 15 Total born (n) 11.05 15.85 <0.001 21.64 Born alive (n) 10.25 14.69 <0.001 21.64 Average weight of total born (kg) 1.53 1.38 0.004 9.21 Average weight of born alive (kg) 1.57 1.38 0.005 10.45
Coefficient of variation
No movement, no breathing after 15 seconds 1 No movement after 15 seconds, piglet is breathing or attempting to breathe (coughing, spluttering, clearing its lungs) 2 Piglet shows some movement within 15 seconds, breathing or attempting to breathe 3 Good movement, good breathing, piglet attempts to stand within 15 seconds
Parameter Danish genetic German Saddleback p-value Gestation length (days) 114.7 115.1 0.322 Total born piglets/sow (n) 18.9 12.8 <.001 Live born piglets/sow (n) 17.6 12.4 <.001 Stillborn piglets/sow (n) 1.3 0.4 0.193
3: Gestation length and litter traits in sows of Danish genetic and German Saddleback
Danish genetic (n =
German Saddleback (n =
Score # Piglets % Piglets # Piglets % Piglets p-value 0 114.7 3.5 5 3.5 0.142 1 18.9 2.1 3 2.1 < .001 2 17.6 88.9 128 88.9 < .001 3 1.3 5.6 8 5.6 < .05
Table 4: Vitality of piglets born to Danish genetic and German Saddleback sows

What is proactive ordering, and how will it help me?

Proactive ordering works by keeping track of inventory levels on-farm and ensuring that orders are placed in a timely fashion so the feed bin or feed room, never run empty. The Grand Valley Customer Service team can take away the worry of ensuring you order product on time, by keeping track of inventory levels for you. By engaging in proactive ordering, our customers can enjoy the advantages of grouping products together and capitalizing on volume discounts based on total tonnage. The more you order at once, the larger the available discount. Both our customers and Grand Valley Fortifiers benefit from proactive ordering as it enables our dispatch team to optimize the routes we send our trucks on, while also ensuring that customers receive nutrition products on time. Although we work hard to provide best in class biosecurity via our GVF trucks and drivers, proactive ordering can limit the number of times a feed truck enters your property – which will help reduce your biosecurity risk.

Currently, Grand Valley Fortifiers offers 2 different proactive ordering programs to help take the burden of feed ordering off your plate.

01. Bin sensors: A sensor is mounted within the lid of an outside bin using magnets (no holes), and readings are taken every 4 hours producing a 3D image of the feed in your bin. Feeding rates are calculated based on how much is consumed daily, weekly, and monthly. Based on those rates, a predicted empty date is generated by an algorithm running in the background. The Grand Valley Fortifiers Customer Service team will monitor the bins and arrange for a feed delivery when you are running low. There is no cost for the sensor, so it truly is a win-win for everyone.

02. Reoccurring orders: Do you have a bulk product that is not in a bin? Do you need a certain bag order on a regular schedule? Our reoccurring order program is a good option if you purchase product that falls under either category. The customer service team will set up an order cycle based on a product use rate and will reach out based on when our calculations predict you will need feed. Since we cannot see what is in your bin or feed room, we can adjust the order quantity or delivery date based on your needs. This program is also offered at no cost to the customer.

If you are interested in signing up for one of our proactive order programs or would like more information, please reach out to the customer service team using the contact details below.

Phone: 1-800-567-4400 | Text: 519-239-6859

Email: customerservice@grandvalley.com

Introducing Grand Valley Fortifiers' Approach to Technical Support

With today’s technology and the genetic potential of the animals being raised, it may seem that the possibilities to maximize production are endless. However, considering all these opportunities, it can be become difficult to keep an overview of the production on-farm. Swine producers today are running businesses with tight margins and in a lot of cases, require a new service approach. To be able to support our customers in the best way possible, Grand Valley Fortifiers is building a dedicated technical support team to assist our Livestock Business Consultants where needed.

Production improvement specialists work together with our colleagues Canadawide to offer technical support to our customers. As a livestock premix and feed supplier, we have a talented team of nutritionists to manage the feeding programs for our customers. But there is more to raising a pig than high quality nutrition and this is where technical support roles come into play. This team can help with all areas of production, including general technical support, troubleshooting, and training.

In general, looking at the production level at a farm, “there is always room for improvement” is a saying that is used often. By looking at the whole picture, we try to look for opportunities to improve. Production can be influenced in many ways, either positively or negatively. Below are a few examples:

Management in the breeding or farrowing rooms

• Feeding systems available

• Farm layout (including pig flow) and ventilation systems

• Health status of the herd

A combination of barn visits and data analyses from the sow management system, feed systems, and/or ventilation systems, can give great insights. Pig production is all about averages, however, to improve these numbers, it is important to know what the average consists of. Which group of animals is influencing the average in a good or bad way? Is it a few outlier animals, with a uniform group otherwise?

Keeping the overview is key and it needs to be quick and easy to see this whole picture for regular monitoring. This allows farm owners and managers to quickly determine the areas that need more attention and decide with their team how to move forward. At Grand Valley Fortifiers, we can assist with creating this overview, while utilizing the current systems in the barn, and provide timely advice if desired by the customer. Please reach out to your Livestock Business Consultant if you would like to learn more.

Another part of technical support is troubleshooting when there are changes in the production level, either suddenly or as a trend over time. It is not always obvious why the production level changes, and this is where the Grand Valley Fortifiers technical support team can be of assistance. These “fresh set of eyes” can be helpful in determining the cause of the issue. The strategy created to recover production levels is always a customized approach, considering the individual farm. Having a useful overview of your farm’s production is key to understanding what is going on at the farm. However, to improve your production level, having a dedicated team on-farm is the key to success. Given our exposure to many farms across the country, we are in a unique position to see more than one example of a well-run farm. If there are areas of production that you would like to improve, specific on-farm training for staff can be organized in cooperation with the farm owner or manager. This ensures a customized approach, given an individual farm’s production level and what is truly feasible on-farm.

With the creation of a technical support team, our aim is to provide our customers with an additional resource to help their businesses be more profitable. A tailored approach to provide a valuable and regular overview, troubleshoot production issues, and offer supplemental training is a step in the right direction. Despite the unique challenges that producers may face, we believe that by working together, we can go further.

Assessing Nursery Additives

Offering exceptional nursery feeds for Canadian Swine producers requires constant evaluation. A recent example of this improvement process involved testing out an additive in nursery feeds we offer for piglets up to 9 kg. Early piglet nutrition is an area of great interest for several reasons. The first being that the weaning weight and subsequent weight at the end of the nursery period is predictive of lifetime performance. It is also important to investigate tools (like feed additives for improved gut health) that could be part of the solution to replacement of in-feed antibiotics. If we can improve the feed intake, growth performance, and gut health and/or function of weaned pigs, we are setting the stage for weaning to market success.

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Example Feed Bin and Fill Level History

In a recent trial, we compared our standard nursery program from weaning to 10 kg, using Initiate and Propel, compared to Initiate and Propel with Additive P included. The feed budget was the same during this time. After 10 kg of bodyweight, all pigs were put on the same feeds and budget for the rest of the nursery period. Additive P is designed to support and maintain digestive function and intestinal microflora. There is also evidence to suggest antioxidant capacity with this additive. These characteristics would be beneficial for newly weaned pigs, as they have a relatively underdeveloped digestive tract and need to adapt from a milk-based diet to a dry, pelleted diet.

The trial was conducted with 565 newly weaned piglets, split evenly among the two treatments. The feed budget was the same for both groups of pigs. The only difference was the Additive P included in the Initiate and Propel diets for the treatment pigs (Table 1).

Including an additive designed to help with digestive function in the first two phases of the nursery resulted in similar growth, feed consumption, and feed conversion compared to the Standard nursery program from 7.4 to 34 kg (Table 2). There was a $0.21 greater margin over feed cost with the inclusion of Additive P, which was calculated using the body weight gained and considering the cost to feed the pig. However, the bigger take home message would be the excellent nursery performance from both groups of pigs, achieving > 600 g/d growth and <1.5 feed conversion from 7.4-34 kg.

This trial is a great example of continuous evaluation of the nursery feeding programs at Grand Valley Fortifiers. Each trial gives us more insight and allows us to make improvements to our feeding programs, with the ultimate goal of improving the profitability of our customers. We do recognize that every farm is different, and conditions can even vary from batch to batch, highlighting the importance of continuous data generation and product evaluation. If you would like to learn more about running trials on your farm or sharing data with us, please reach out to support@onfarmbi.com or your Livestock Business Consultant!

Would you like more information about the nursery feeding programs available from Grand Valley Fortifiers?

Contact us today by calling: 1-877-625-4400 or 519-621-4400


Commodity Outlook

We are looking at a vastly different story since the last time we shared an update. Adverse weather in South America is now an old story, and we are talking about a record crop. On top of this, USDA has increased corn and bean yields for the 2023 crop. World corn/bean supply is ample, and demand is low: the perfect mix to get low prices.

Also, Hedge Funds have sold their long positions in corn, bean, and meal. There is not a story that the Funds can get behind to cause them to want to go back long. Since mid-November, meal has dropped by 200$CDN/mt and corn by 20$CDN/mt. The meal market is volatile but still has room to go down, so do not buy too much in advance.

Join us in Welcoming Our Newest Swine Specialist!


Monogastric Nutritionist

We are very excited to announce that Dr. João Ferreira joined Fortified Nutrition in the position of Monogastric Nutritionist on February 26th. Born and raised in Brazil, João holds a PhD in Animal Science from the University of Missouri, Columbia, USA. Before joining FNL, he completed his 3-year Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Manitoba. Before coming to Manitoba for his Postdoctoral Fellowship, João worked as Swine Nutritionist for ADM's Wisium and as a Technical Research Coordinator (focusing on both Poultry and Swine research) for Cargill.

João currently lives in Winnipeg but is planning to move and be based in Alberta. He will work closely together with Samuel Waititu and Saymore Ndou to assist in offering nutrition services to swine and poultry producers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana, USA. This is an exciting addition for our FNL team as we endeavor to better service our customers in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Montana.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. João Ferreira to the team.

If you have any questions for our team, please feel free to contact João at: joaoferreira@fortifiednutritionltd.ca | 204-698-3078

The inclusion of Additive P yielding similar growth performance with a numerically greater margin over feed cost, warrants further discussion. As part of our strategic partnership with AB Neo, utilizing the Primary Diets Nursery Feeds, we will review the results from Additive P together to determine our next course of action. Nevertheless, the nursery performance achieved by both groups of pigs in this trial is evidence of the high quality nursery feeding program offered by Grand Valley Fortifiers.

Thought of the Day!

“God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises, leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself.”

INITIATE 5.5–7kg 20–29 PROPEL 7–9kg 25–36 Days of Age Body Weight Enhanced with
Feed Budget BioForce Initiate 1.0 kg BioForce Propel 1.5 kg BioForce Piglet 180 4.0 kg BioForce Piglet 32 17.0 kg BioForce Hog 32 Balance
1. Feed Budget
Parameter Standard Additive P Start weight, kg 7.43 7.39 End weight, kg 33.94 34.02 Average daily gain, g 616 619 Feed consumed/pig, kg 39.09 39.55 Feed conversion ratio 1.47 1.49 Feed cost/ kg gain, $ 0.96 0.96 Margin over feed cost, $/pig* 54.08 54.29
2: Overall Nursery Results
over feed cost = ($3 per kg feeder pig gain)-feed cost

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