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Supplementation Guide for Piglets

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Piglets are naturally fragile and sensitive at birth. Very low levels of body fat and zero immunity make them vulnerable to a lot of health risk factors which is the very reason why it’s essential to boost their immune system early on. And this is done by giving them all the essential nutrients for a healthy start in life. 

Key to Piglet Nutrition:  Nutrient Efficient

As breeders, we do know that we need to feed these young pigs. But what we rarely know is what and how much to feed them which are ultimately essential to avoid problems associated with early weaning. It is not enough that we give them whatever feed is available. Key to successful raising of strong piglets is knowing exactly what their feeds should be containing. For a quick guide on what to give to your piglets during the early stages, read on. 

1. Lactose 

Lactose is a basic necessity for piglets. Feed intake and growth increases to up to 50%  with lactose concentration. Improved growth performance is boosted by this nutrient. Take note though of minimum dietary lactose for weaning piglets. It needs to be lowered after the first 2 weeks of weaning as pigs over 12-15kgs have very minimal benefits from lactose. 

2. Amino acids

Amino acids are important for a piglet’s gut health which is basically a healthy balance of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, necessary for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients. Among the major essential amino acids, glutamine for early diets work well for gut health. But experts say that there should also be a timely reduction of crude protein in the diet to avoid E-coli infection and diarrhea. 

3. Copper Sulfate and Zinc Oxide

These mineral salts are highly important for weaning piglets because they improve growth performance and avoid symptoms of diarrhea in post weaned piglets. 

4. Energy Sources 

Corn and rice are usually the more popular energy sources for growing piglets. Likewise, oils (not animal fats) are also used as an energy source because they are more digestible. These are oils extracted from soybeans, sunflower, and corn, are used during the first two weeks of post-weaning. 

Feed Preparation 

How feeds are processed and prepared is also a prime consideration for a piglet’s nourishment. That’s because certain processes increase the nutritive value of the feeds, making them more digestible for proper sustenance. 

  • Grinding – This has  a lot to do with nutrient absorption. This is because the degree of fineness of ingredients in feeds for pigs affects how the nutrients are going to be digested. The finer it is, the higher the nutrient digestibility. 
  • Pellets –  As pellets are less bulky than ordinary pig meals, it is said that pelleting improves feed efficiency because of its enhanced nutrient digestibility and absorption. Research says 14-21 day old piglets can easily digest pellets that are at least 1-12 mm in diameter. 

Indeed, nourishing young piglets early on requires careful consideration of what nutrients to provide. More than feeding, it’s actually a healthy mix of ingredient selection, diet formulation, and feed preparation. And the more nutrient efficient they are, the healthier these young pigs will be. 

Sources:

https://www.pigprogress.net/Special-Focus/Piglet-Feeding/Introduction-to-piglet-nutrition-Back-to-the-basics/

https://www.thepigsite.com/articles/piglet-nutrition-notes-an-insight-into-optimal-piglet-nutrition

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