TECHNICAL ARTICLES Swine

Piglet feeding programs to optimize growth performance and reduce feed cost

In nature piglets are gradually weaned at an age of approximately 70 days. As the piglets get older, the sow will take them foraging for longer periods each day to allow them to supplement their milk based diet with more complex plant carbohydrates and proteins. As the digestive system of the piglets matures they will consume more plant material and less milk until they are weaned.

Piglets are commercially weaned at 28 days of age with a relatively underdeveloped digestive system. It is important to maintain feed intake in the period directly after weaning to prevent the so-called post weaning growth slump and digestive problems associated with weaning.

A good quality creep diet, fed from about 14 days of age, will help with this transition from sow’s milk to solid food. By supplying a creep diet the piglets get accustomed to the smell, taste and physical form of solid food. It also introduces the piglet’s milk based digestive system to plant carbohydrate and protein sources, which stimulates the development of the digestive system.

Date published: 2011-05-25

Author:
G. Pretorious

Publication: Meadow Feeds