Weaning is a stressful stage for a pig with many things happening which could have a profound impact on the piglet’s health. In a webinar during the Misset International Webinar Week, 3 expert speakers addressed the topic. The webinar is now available for viewing.
Around the time of weaning, piglets that already struggled can be affected by pathogens. The most well-known pathogen is E. coli. With the use of antibiotics being discouraged, farmers are running out of options to treat pigs at weaning stage. What can be done to help the young animals get through that stage in life more smoothly?
The first speaker, Dr Casey Bradley, president at the Sunswine Group, discussed the theme ‘Archetypal Protein – an opportunity to lower crude protein in nursery diets’. Weaned pigs have a lot of stresses, including switching of feed, which sees an immature gut develop to a mature gut. According to Dr Bradley, this stage in the gut does not have enough acid to help digest food which can lead to diarrhoea.
She talked about the use of archetypal proteins to reduce crude protein in swine diets while optimising performance and reducing the pig industry’s environmental footprint. She also touched on emissions and how to harness nitrogen, for example, and make it a usable commodity and not a challenge.
Next in the spotlight was Delphine Van Zele, product manager pigs EMEA at Nuscience, who looked at 5 misconceptions about zinc free weaning. Back in 2017, the European Union banned the use of medicated zinc oxide because of the risk to the environment, and the increase of antibiotic resistance on the bacteria.
The misconceptions highted by Van Zele included farmers thinking they can replace zinc oxide with feed alone; weaning with lower protein levels is impossible; extra fibre in the weaning diet will decrease the growth; management does not have a big impact on zinc free weaning and feeding creep feed in the farrowing house has no big influence on the weaning stage.
Last to present on weaning was Graziano Mantovani from Cargill. He zoomed in on ‘Growability – when safety meets performance.’ Mantovani said growability equals the post weaning survival percentage multiplied by weight gain and went on to discuss the factors that can influence it.
His conclusions included that feed intake pre-weaning is crucial for gut preparation, weaning diets should be adapted to piglet intake profiles. He also highlighted the importance of protein digestibility, and said growth and safety can go together.