Managing feed intake of piglets Managing feed intake of piglets

Managing feed intake of piglets

Our unique electronic feeding stations for post-weaned piglets show that teaching them how to eat is critically important to their successful rearing. Offering creep feed doubles the success rate of continuous post-weaning feed intake, ensuring proper gut function and integrity and reducing the risk of digestive disorders.

How to recognise

The pig is a very adaptable animal, able to thrive in a variety of ecological niches. To allow for feed selection, the pig is equipped with sophisticated sensory organs to detect potential nutritious feedstuffs in its surroundings. The young pig is initially reluctant to try new and unknown feeds (food neophobia), most likely because this evolutionary behaviour protects them from ingesting potential harmful ingredients by acquiring a pick-and-learn feed intake pattern. The most typical time for neophobia to occur is during the immediate post-weaning period, when piglets may fall back on their innate taste preferences or on learned association between certain tastes or flavours and safety of the feed. This makes variation in palatability risky and may lead to temporarily reduced feed intake, subsequently resulting in prolonged losses in performance, especially during the critical weaning period. Therefore, we recommend that taste and flavour changes between different feeding phases should be limited by driving feed formulation and/or feeding schemes.

The impact on the farmer

Ensuring good feed intake pre-and post-weaning is key to maintaining a healthy animal. Research shows that piglets orally infected with E. coli suffer from reduced feed efficiency only when their feed intake drops below the minimum threshold. This indicates that eating sufficient amounts of feed is an important measure to prevent production losses caused by post-weaning challenges. Important to note is that feed intake during the first week of post-weaning largely determines the intake and body weight gain over the entire nursery phase.