The effect of feed form and delivery method on feed microbiology and growth performance in grow-finisher pigs

Fiona M. O'Meara, Gillian E. Gardiner, John V. O'Doherty, Peadar G. Lawlor

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9 Citations (Scopus)


There is no generally accepted optimal feed form and delivery method for feeding finisher pigs. The objective of this study was to compare the effect of feed form (meal and pellet) and delivery method (liquid, dry, and wet/dry) on feed microbiology and growth, gain-to-feed ratio (G:F), and carcass quality of finisher pigs. Two batches of pigs were used, each with six pen replicates per treatment. In each batch 216 pigs (32.7 kg; ± 0.48 SE) housed in same-sex (entire male or female) pens of six pigs per pen were on treatment for ∼62 d prior to slaughter. The experiment was a 2 × 3 factorial arrangement with two factors for diet form (meal and pellets) and three factors for feed delivery (dry, wet/dry, liquid). The treatments were 1) meal from dry feeder, 2) meal from wet/dry feeder, 3) meal from liquid system, 4) pellet from dry feeder, 5) pellet from wet/dry feeder, and 6) pellet from liquid system. Pig growth performance was determined, blood samples collected at slaughter for hematological analysis and microbiological and proximate analysis of feed performed. A significant feed form × delivery interaction was found for G:F. During the overall period G:F was 0.446, 0.433, 0.423, 0.474, 0.459, and 0.418 g/g (SE = 0.0080; P < 0.01) for treatments 1 through 6, respectively. When feed was pelleted, G:F was improved when feed delivery was dry or wet/dry compared to meal but when the delivery was liquid, pelleting did not affect G:F. There were no interactive effects for overall average daily gain (ADG). Overall ADG was 1,114 and 1,156 g/d (SE = 16.9; P < 0.01) for pigs fed diets in meal and pellet form, respectively and 1,080, 1,114, and 1,210 g/d (SE = 18.4; P < 0.001) for dry-, wet/dry-, and liquid-fed pigs, respectively. Carcass weight was 76.6 and 79.0 kg (SE = 0.55; P < 0.001) for pigs fed in meal and pellet form, respectively, while it was 74.7, 77.3, and 81.5 kg (SE = 0.60; P < 0.001) for pigs delivered dry, wet/dry, and liquid diets, respectively. Lactic acid bacteria (P < 0.05) and yeast (P < 0.01) counts in troughs were greater for the liquid than the dry diet in both meal and pelleted form. There was also evidence of lysine degradation in the liquid diet but this did not impact pig growth. Feeding the diet in pelleted vs. meal form led to lower hemoglobin and greater white blood cell and neutrophil counts (P < 0.05). To conclude, wet/dry feeding of a pelleted diet is recommended to maximize growth rate while optimizing G:F in grow-finisher pigs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberskaa021
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Dry feed
  • Fattener
  • Liquid feed
  • Meal
  • Pellet
  • Swine


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