Creep feeding is the practice of introducing solid feeds to pigs before they are weaned.
The primary reasons for creep feeding pigs are:
To supplement pre-weaned piglets with a solid diet while they are suckling
To create eaters at weaning
How does creep feeding work?
Creep feeding eases the transition from sow’s milk to solid pig starter feed. When a pig eats creep, it stimulates the digestive system to produce amylase, an enzyme that digests the carbohydrates in dry feed. This helps the pig prepare for optimal nutrient digestion when he’s ready for pre-starter and starter diets. If a pig is better able to digest dry feed, he can start eating quickly post-weaning for better performance in the nursery and beyond.
To realize the many benefits of creep feeding, you need to be doing it correctly. Here are nine best practices for creep feeding. Use them as a tool to train new employees and help experienced employees remain consistent.
Tips for successfully creep feeding pigs
Store creep feed in a dry, fresh place and keep the bags or containers closed.
When using UltraCare® Creep Feed, start three to five days before weaning at a rate of 1.5 to 2.5 pounds of feed per litter per day.
Start by offering small amounts of pig creep feed; increase the amount fed as intake increases. Do not over feed, and remove refused feed.
Piglets are social creatures. Place creep feed on mats to encourage them to eat in groups.
Keep creep feed out of the sow’s reach when placing it for pigs. Offer piglets creep feed when the sow is awake and eating so the pigs are less likely to be suckling.
Place creep feed in the piglets’ comfort zone; avoid placing it below a heat source, near water sources or in pen corners.
Offer creep feed two to three times a day to allow pigs optimal access to creep feed.
Ensure weaning pigs have access to water at all times. You might need to show the piglets where to find waterers.
Choose a highly palatable creep feed to entice the young pigs to get up and eat.
Looking for more tools to optimize nursery performance? Read more about supporting pigs post-weaning.