Playfully learning to eat prevents weaning growth checks

In nature, piglets playfully learn from the sow what they can eat. The KZB feeder from Verba encourages that natural process, with a low trough that allows the piglets to access the sow’s feed. After a few days, they will eat alongside her, and at weaning they know exactly where to look for their food, and transition easily to a solid diet. The piglets do not experience a growth check at weaning, and reach their target weight a week earlier.

It is known that piglets copy the behaviour of the sow from an early age. When she goes to eat, they watch what she does. The KZB feeder from Verba has been developed with that natural behaviour in mind, and the goal is to provide one trough from which both the sow and the piglets can eat. After weaning, the piglets no longer have to learn where to get their food from, and how the feeding trough works. The KZB feeder therefore has a low trough, and the dosing system is at a height that allows both the sow and the piglets to operate it.

Extensively tested

The prototype of the KZB feeder has been tested extensively in the Brummelhuis family’s farrowing pens. Experience shows that the piglets normally start taking a bit of feed from the trough on the fifth day. They chew on it and saliva production starts. Importantly, the piglets will also eat any prestarter they are offered. At the end of the suckling period, the piglets are already used to solid feed. By copying how the sow operates the dosing system on the KZB feeder, they can control it themselves.

No growth check

At weaning, the piglets no longer have to learn where to get their food from and they are all used to taking solid feed. The only thing the stockman needs to do is to fill the KZB feeder with piglet feed. The piglets eat right away and continue to grow after weaning. According to Brummelhuis, there is no longer a weaning growth check. The result is that the piglets grow much faster and are at the desired weight one week earlier. In addition, the piglets have better health; in the past two years the farm has had no problems with Streptococci.

Less labour

Working with the KZB feeder in a farrowing pen can also lead to savings in labour and be better for the environment. The Brummelhuis family has made the move to free-farrowing pens, and at 6.0 to 6.5 square meters, these are big enough to be used as weaning pens. It is not necessary to place another feeding system into the pen at weaning, as the storage bin on the KZB feeder is large enough for the feed intake of 15 piglets. Pens used in this way are cleaned less often, which saves labour and water use, and also reduces the quantity of manure for storage and disposal.


Jarno Brummelhuis: “There has been no growth check and no problems with Streptococci using the KZB feeder”

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