Weaning piglets means, amongst other changes, a transition to a new diet. From a liquid diet of sow’s milk with lactose as an energy source, the piglet’s diet turns into solid feed with starch as the main energy source. The quality of this first feed will have a decisive influence on the piglet's performance during both post-weaning and fattening periods. However, how does one produce a starter feed that will allow piglets to cope with the stress of weaning, while ensuring the establishment of a diverse and balanced microbiome for optimal digestive and immune maturity.
The impact of unsuitable feed on a weaned piglet
At weaning, the piglet’s digestive system is not yet well-developed. The enzyme activity is low and is still adapted to the digestion of lactose. On the other hand, the stress of weaning causes intake reductions. This is also known as post-weaning anorexia.
To make the transition easier, a suited feed should:
- Be very palatable to encourage feed intake
- Be digestible to prevent from digestive disorders
- Stimulate the development of immunity and establishment of a controlled and diversified microbiota.
Inadequate post-weaning feed will be less consumed by piglets and will be poorly utilized. It is likely to cause the following effects:
- digestive disorders, which will be manifested by diarrhea and a poor digestive system maturation
- negative impact on performance: growth retardation, not only during the post-weaning period but also during the fattening period.
Some tips for making suitable feed for young piglets
Making suitable feed for young piglets requires expertise and sharp technology. These are often seen as difficult to master, being dedicated to specialized feed mills. This also means using special and various raw materials, requiring more storage, all resulting in higher costs.
As a feed miller, making one's piglet feed is nevertheless possible, with good support. It is first necessary to have quality raw materials. That is to say, there must be a choice of noble raw materials that are selected for their palatability and digestibility (dairy products, extruded cereals, biscuits, vegetable protein concentrates, healthy fibers, specific fat sources, etc.).
To this is added the quality of the pellet, or crumb, based on the following criteria:
- Particle size of flour before pelleting : a fine particle size increases the digestibility of the feed
- Adapted size for the young animal
- Suitable granulation temperature so that nutrient digestibility is not altered. Raw materials rich in sugar or energy should be used with caution as they are sensitive to heat
- Hardness: it is important to get soft but not crispy pellets. If too hard, piglets will eat less. The choice of raw materials and their incorporation rate as well as the compression rate of the mix will be decisive to obtain a pellet of optimal hardness
Performance, security, cost, quality, and technicality are major parameters in piglet feed production. The Experts of Group TECHNA offer personalized guidance to feed manufacturers to enable them to make themselves powerful piglet feed that is competitive and well-adapted. All of the proposed solutions were validated in research trial situations and in the field to ensure palatability, digestive performance, and security for future weaning feeds. Contact our experts!
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