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1 commentlast update:Mar 10, 2011

Creep-Feeding and Genetics

Editor PigProgress
In the last couple years, I have observed a resurgence in creep feeding. Not only in smaller, family type operations, but also in larger settings where labor has always been in short supply.

By creep feeding we normally mean the provision of a dry diet, usually pellets, but for the sake of this discussion let’s also include liquid milk replacers, and even any other nutritional supplement offered to piglets before weaning as a means of boosting their growth.
The main reason I was given when I asked about this increase in popularity of creep feeding was the increasing number of piglets born alive per litter. As is well known, with each piglet born, total milk yield increases but milk intake per piglet decreases. In other words, the sow tries but fails to keep up with an increasing demand. Given that modern genetics aim for super hyper-prolific sows (exceeding 30 piglets per year per sow, now), it comes as no surprise that lower birth and weaning weights are observed with these developments.
So, this brings back into attention pre-weaning nutrition, but also post-weaning nutrition, as a
lighter pig at weaning requires even more complex diets than the same pig (same age) at a heavier weight.
So, perhaps what we achieve with increased prolificacy we lose by reduced weaning weight even after increasing weaning age - now this is an interesting thought! Nevertheless, we must cope with these smaller piglets and of course supplementary nutrition before weaning is certainly one of the tools we must employ. I would be interested to read what works best in your conditions (please, specify them), being either a certain production system or a new source of genetics, when it comes to creep feeding!

One comment

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    Dr Nikolaos Kotrotsios

    The purpose of the creep feeding is to stimulate appetite so piglets look for feed and have improved feed intake and growth performance in the post weaning period and the longer the duration of creep feeding the higher number of eaters within a litter.
    Liquid milk replacers have been a very good opportunity, in order to encourage the consumption of dry feed before weaning. For suckling piglets the liquid milk replacers is recommended to start feeding a high creep quality feed 4-7 days of age. I will recommend the liquid milk replacers 24 hours after birth if the sows have got enough colostrum. In that way, additionally to the antibodies from the colostrum, provides the piglets with sufficient energy, protein and other nutrients. Alternatively, to that are fed with porridge milk products is also very suitable.
    Sucking pigs have different digestive system to those of pigs eating solid feed. This requires availability of a highly palatable diet offered to the sucking pig in appealing form. We should take in consideration, for litters of reasonable size, supplementary feed will help to attain the greatest possible growth rate during the sucking phase. On the other hand hyper prolific sows give larger litter sizes and there are not enough nipples on the sow to provide for all her piglets. In order to solve this problem, pig farmers use nursing sows. So the common use of a high quality of creep feed is obligatory to avoid welfare problems. The overriding requirement of a creep feed for sucking pigs is that it be readily eaten. The diet must therefore interesting to the young piglet in non-nutritional (taste, texture and smell) as well as nutritional terms.

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