To optimize your hogs’ feed intake and growth you will likely need to allow more square footage, says Mike Brumm, production consultant, Mankato, Minn.

He emphasizes the need for producers to re-evaluate the square footage in their swine units. As the days, months and years pass, and your herd’s productivity increases, the space once allotted for growing pigs is likely to be much different today.

Brumm suggests determining the “K-value” for pigs to more accurately evaluate the relationship between space and body weight. For example: The optimum K-value at which feed intake and weight gain are maximized is 0.2145. So, the relationship can be expressed as A = K x BW 0.667 where A is the area in square feet and BW is the average body weight in pounds.

Thus, the optimal space requirement would break out as follows:

  • A 50-pound pig would need 2.9 square feet (A = 0.2145 x 50 0.667).
  • A 265-pound pig would require 8.9 square feet to optimize feed intake and rate of gain.

Brumm points to a survey that shows, on average, U.S. finishing facilities provide 7.2 square feet of space per pig. In reviewing research summaries, he found that in fully slatted facilities, for every 3 percent decline in space, daily feed intake and gain dropped by 1 percent.

So, if a 250-pound pig gets 7.2 square feet versus the 8.5 square feet that’s recommended, you could expect a 5 percent drop in feed intake and its related impact on weight gain. For partially slatted facilities, the result is even more pronounced. A 3 percent squeeze on space causes a 1.5 percent decline in daily feed intake and rate of gain.