Feeding pelleted diets will improve average daily gain and feed-to-gain ratios. But can pellets help eliminate or reduce growth depression in pigs housed in overcrowded pens?

A European research trial indicated pellets may help overcrowded pigs grow better than meal diets. But a trial at the University of Nebraska came to the opposite conclusion.

In the trial led by Mike Brumm, University of Nebraska extension swine specialist, two groups of pigs went into 8-foot by 14-foot pens. Some pens contained 14 hogs and others 19 hogs. That provided 8 square feet of space per hog in the less-populated pens vs. 5.9 square feet in the crowded pens.

Pigs were fed either meal or pellets. While the pellets did improve feed efficiency and performance in both pens, they didn’t seem to help the crowded pigs overcome growth limitations brought on by space restrictions.

So while pellets can be a more effective form of feed in the grow/finish phase, they apparently don’t take the edge off of overcrowding pigs.