Swine

Choosing Pig Feed Ingredients for Successful Starts and Finishes

Young Animal : Nutrition

Emily Otto-Tice, Ph.D.

Senior Nutritionist, Swine Technical Solutions

Nutrition impacts many aspects of the pig’s growth and development, including its immune system. Choosing the right pig starter feed and ensuring your management practices support early feed intake can minimize the obstacles to pig performance and immune development now and in the future.
 
Here are three barriers to weaned pig feed intake, along with actions you can take against each.

Barrier 1: Separation from the sowAn obstacle course illustrates the challenges weaned pigs face

The sudden change from a familiar space and food source is a big hurdle for small pigs. On average, pig starter feed intake 3-4 days after weaning is too low to meet the pig’s needs. Low feed intake limits intestinal development, leaving the pig susceptible to health challenges – now and in coming months.
 
What you can do: Pigs are highly sensitive to taste and smell, and you can use that to your advantage. UltraCare® pre-starter and pig starter feeds are formulated with intake-optimizing technology to help drive early intake through the pig’s senses.

Barrier 2: New feed ingredients

The shift from sow’s milk to dry feed is more than a change in preference. The newly weaned pig’s digestive system isn’t prepared to handle dry pig feed ingredients. It can take four to seven days for pigs to develop the enzymes needed to digest dry feed.
 
What you can do: Provide pig starter feed with complex, highly digestible ingredients to support the transition and optimize gut development. A healthy, well-developed gut has optimal surface area for nutrient absorption and functions as barrier to disease.
 
UltraCare® gel is another tool with nutritional technologies designed to encourage eating behavior while providing nutrition and hydration. Offering UltraCare® gel a few days before weaning and at weaning helps ease the transition from sow’s milk to dry feed and get pigs on feed quicker.

Barrier 3: Disease challenges

Pre-weaned pigs are protected from disease by antibodies in the sow’s milk. That protection begins to wane at weaning and is gone after about three weeks. Meanwhile, it takes six weeks from weaning for the pig to develop its own immunity.
 
What you can do: Maintain a clean environment to minimize disease threats. Consider complete pig starter feed such as UltraCare® pre-starters and starters that support gut development and help optimize the microbes in the gut.

Data shows the importance of strong starts right out of the gate at weaning. Our research demonstrates every 1-pound difference at end of nursery (32 days post-weaning) correlated to a nearly 2.1-pound heavier pig at finishing.
 
Pigs face many barriers in the weeks post weaning, and any one of them can cause a performance lag that can echo through finishing. You can minimize the barriers by maintaining a clean, comfortable environment and supporting intake of high-quality nutrition and fresh, clean water.
 
Find a Purina representative near you.