Palatability Key to Maximizing Feed Intake When Weaning Piglets

Sep 18, 2015

By Bruce Cochrane

A research scientist with the Prairie Swine Centre says the palatability of rations is a key factor in maximizing feed intake when transitioning young piglets from mother's milk to solid feed.

Because the gastrointestinal tract of the piglet at weaning is so small, rations must be carefully balanced to ensure it gets the nutrients needed to maximize early growth.

As part research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc scientists are exploring feed processing techniques designed to improve the nutritional value of rations fed to newly weaned pigs.
Dr. Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Prairie Swine Centre, says at weaning feed intake is a limiting factor and weaning is a particularly stressful time for the pig.

Dr. Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre:
It's being removed from the sow where all it's had at that point in time is milk so it has to adapt to dry feed, it has to adapt to plant proteins, it has to adapt to a new environment without the sow so all of these can cause a lot of reactions in the young pig.

It's a very very stressful few days post weaning and we have to formulate diets that are very palatable so we have some animal products in there, for example some milk byproducts.

The newly weaned pig has only seen proteins from milk so we have to make that transition a little bit slow so we will adapt the pig to plant proteins over a period of a few days.

Because new proteins, if the cells in the gut have not seen these before, they can cause an allergenic reaction so we have to adapt it slowly.

The other issue, if the pig has not tasted these before, it may not want something that's novel or new so we have to adapt the piglet to these slowly over time.

Scientists are evaluating hundreds of different combinations of feed ingredients and treatments.

Dr. Beaulieu expects to know, by Christmas, which ones will be used in feeding experiments due to begin next year.

Source: Farmscape

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