Pre-weaning nutrition: How a little means a lot
In an environment with highly prolific sows and challenging markets, it is vital to get piglets drinking early and rapidly. This is essential not only in the days and weeks surrounding weaning. Ongoing research shows that a good start continues to pay off later in life.
Over the years, genetic selection has resulted in a substantially increased number of piglets born per sow in each litter worldwide. This increase in litter size often means smaller and more vulnerable piglets, with greater variation within litters. At the same time, when sows deliver large litters, their milk does not increase in proportion to the increased number of piglets born and thus the piglets suffer from a milk shortage. As a result, it is becoming increasingly common practice to provide suckling piglets with feeds to supplement sow milk.
Figure 1 - Milk production per litter and milk intake per individual piglet in relation to litter size.
This article examines the relevance of early supplemental feeding to supporting piglets’ growth and development - covering the areas:
- Surveys of sows
- Supplemental feeds aid ‘catch-up’
- Importance of early feed intake
- A closer look at the gut
- Importance of supplemental feeding
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