Post-weaning diarrhoea, colibacillosis, oedema disease, streptococcus problems, ear necrosis. Helping piglets to cope with these challenges has become increasingly important due to the increase in the number of live born piglets during the last decade. This results in a huge challenge in young animal nutrition: rearing of more light piglets, which are more vulnerable for diseases with less antibiotics.
Under commercial conditions, only 60% of piglets eat before weaning. Piglets eating before weaning take 3 times less time to start eating after weaning compared to non-eating littermates. The sudden loss of nutrient intake will severely compromise the intestinal mucosal morphology. For this reason it is always recommended to feed the same diet that is fed before weaning for 3 days after weaning. Piglets eating before weaning need less veterinary treatments for meningitis compared to non-eating littermates (Table 1).
Piglets are prone to sweet and umami tastes, but also have well developed preferences for different cereals, protein sources and acids. In addition, processing steps have a huge influence on the feed intake of piglets. Next to this, also the nutrient composition has a huge influence on the feed intake of the piglets. Unbalanced amino acid compositions for instance have a huge negative influence on the feed intake.
For every 50 grams the piglet eats before weaning, villus height is increased by 10%. Photo: Joris Telders
Stimulating intestinal development
For every 50 grams the piglet eats before weaning, villus height is increased by 10%. By eating solid feed before weaning, piglets develop the acid secretion capacity in the stomach and the secretions of digestive enzymes like amylase and protease. The development of these intestinal functions is essential to digest the vegetable proteins and carbohydrates after weaning. A proper digestion after weaning will result in a lower amount of undigested nutrients, limiting the risk for the development of post-weaning diarrhoea.
By feeding special nutrients in the creep feed, the intestinal microbiota can be influenced in the early stages. For instance Aromabiotic - medium chain fatty acids are well known for their selective antibacterial effect. In addition, the protein content and digestibility of the feed is important. Undigested protein causes intestinal imbalances, and diarrhoea problems. To help piglets to digest the protein in the feed, using prestarters with a high amount of well digestible protein sources and a strict attention for the acid binding capacity of the feed is essential (Figure 1).
Maintain gut barrier functioning
Compared to villus length, which returns to preweaning values 14 days after weaning, the gut barrier function takes much longer to recover. For this reason, before and immediately after weaning it’s important to start the piglets with a feed that will lead to a lower prevalence of intestinal inflammation. Also improving the feed intake of piglets immediately after weaning (Table 2), and providing piglets with an adequate supply of different synergistic antioxidants, like vitamin E, C, selenium and natural antioxidants like Vitanox can reduce this degeneration.
Stimulating immune system development
It’s well known that piglets face problems with their immunity around weaning: their own immune system isn’t fully developed yet, while they don’t have the passive immunity of the sow milk available anymore. On top of this, research has shown that stress situations cause a reduction of the longevity of the neutrophils. Some ingredients like medium chain fatty acids are well known to improve the longevity of these neutrophils, and stimulate the immunity of the animals. Other ingredients like blood plasma contain immunoglobulins that support the immunity of the animals in this critical period.
In the Babi range, Nuscience combines excellent feed intake with health stimulation of piglets and a good development of the immune system, having long term effects on the piglets. According to different health situations, genetics, weaning ages, Nuscience has different prestarter feeds available, focusing more on stimulating feed intake or preventing intestinal disturbances, which suit each farm. When weaning young piglets, the focus is placed more on promoting feed intake with the Babi Delicious line. While in severely health-challenged farms, intestinal disturbances can be avoided with the Babi Robust line. The Babi dynamic line meets both challenges half way.