Adding flavours to creep feed may be a method to stimulate early exploratory behaviour, feed intake and performance in piglets . Butterscotch, in particular proved to be a hit.
Research at the School of Agriculture at Newcastle University, UK, aimed at investigating the effect of increasing creep flavour diversity in two lactation housing systems. The trial was set up as creep feed intake by suckling piglets is often low.
The researchers wanted to test the hypothesis that the sequential presentation of different flavoured creeps each day would stimulate exploratory behaviour and improve feed intake and weight gain during lactation, with subsequent post-weaning benefits.
For the trial, 36 Large White x Landrace sows were used. The sows were allocated to either a farrowing crate or a loose farrowing pen. The litters were further allocated to either a standard or diverse flavour creep feeding regime on day 10 of lactation.
Feeding five different flavoured creeps (toffee, apricot, butterscotch, apple and red fruit) in a daily sequential order increased the hourly frequency of visits to the creep feeder on day 18 of life, and increased the piglets’ feed intake over days 15-22 of lactation, and day 22 to weaning at 28 days.
When controlling for day of presentation, butterscotch flavoured creep promoted a higher intake than red fruit creep, with other flavours intermediate.
The prior experience of flavour diversity significantly increased weight gain in the first two weeks after weaning on a standardised feeding regime for both treatments.
The research was published in February 2014, in Animal Feed Science & Technology.