The phase feeding program is often matched to the weight of piglets at weaning using a feed budget. Generally, as pigs become heavier at weaning, the amount of the initial nursery diets is reduced. As an example, a 3-phase feeding program can be used in the nursery, consisting of phase 1 (12 to 15 lb), phase 2 (15 to 25 lb), and phase 3 (25 to 50 lb) diets. An intensive care diet can be used in the nursery for low weaning weight pigs (8 to 12 lb), health-challenged pigs, as well as be offered as a creep feed during the nursing phase.
Intensive care and phase 1 diets are more complex to improve feed intake and provide high-quality feed ingredients to weanling pigs, such as specialty protein and lactose sources. Intensive care and phase 1 diets are commonly provided as pellets or crumbles because of the impact of specialty ingredients on feed flowability. These diets are more expensive, but the use might be justifiable considering the low amount of feed use. Diet complexity rapidly reduces in phase 2 and 3 diets as feed intake is already established. Phase 2 and 3 diets can be provided either as meal, pellets, or crumbles. These diets represent most of the total feed use in the nursery and have a significant impact on total feed cost in the nursery. Adhering to the feed budget guidelines in Table 1 helps to optimize performance in the nursery and minimize overfeeding of expensive initial nursery diets.