Schothorst Feed Research has developed a separate energy table of feedstuffs for weaning pigs up to 25 kg. This table provides feed producers the opportunity to improve the accuracy of diet formulation for weaning pigs.
Currently feed producers have to rely on energy tables for growing finishing pigs. However, the digestive system of pigs rapidly develops during the first months of life, where the capacity of pigs to digest protein and crude fiber reaches its maximum at a weight of approx. 60 kg. Moreover, the weaning process exerts a large effect on nutrient digestion and absorption. Small intestinal disorders due to the weaning process result in reduced fat and protein digestion and absorption.
Feedstuffs are differently affected: Highly digestible feedstuffs are less affected by age than slower digestible feedstuffs. Therefore, distinct changes of the energy ranking of feedstuffs was found compared to growing/finishing pigs, which justified the release of a separate energy table for piglets. The table is based on feeding values measured in weaned piglets up to 25 kg live weight and includes specific feedstuffs that are preferentially used in the initial post-weaning period.
The responsible Schothorst researchers indicate that due to the rapid change in digestive capacity they had standardise the protocol. They decided to choose piglets from 40 to 48 days of age. Piglets were weaned at 27 days of age.© All piglets were fed at an energy intake level of 3.5 times maintenance. In comparison to the table for growing/finishing pigs, especially feedstuffs containing high amounts of protein and NSP’s have a lower energy value.
In the flowing table the differences in nutrient digestibility and obtained energy value between piglets and growing/finishing pigs on the same feed are given.
Figure 1. Differences in faecal digestibility of nutrients (Organic Matter, Crude Protein, Crude Fat, Crude Fiber) and obtained Net Energy value between piglets and growing/finishing pigs on the same feed (Schothorst Feed Research experiment)
The formulation of weaning piglets diets not only has to take the usual criteria like the nutritional value and price of feedstuffs into account, but also the effect of feed ingredients on gastrointestinal health, esp. weaning diarrhea. One of the financial effects of the new energy table is that it favors rapid and good digestible feedstuffs over less digestible compounds.
The new tables are available for the participants in the Advanced Feed Package program of Schothorst Feed Research.