In addition to reducing stress and providing a good environment, it is important weaner pigs have access to a well-balanced diet to support their growth and performance. In recent years, APL has supported research looking at nutritional strategies to promote weaner performance. Each week during May, the APL Update email newsletter was used to promote three different opportunities, outlined below.
Improving weaner growth and performance with strontium
Strontium is a trace mineral reported to increase bone volume and density. There is potential for strontium supplementation at low doses to improve performance of growing pigs.
In the trial, we found:
- Supplementation of 500 parts per million of strontium during the weaner period supported higher average daily gain. This had no effect on the daily feed intake, resulting in better feed efficiency. The supplementation also resulted in higher bodyweight and average daily weight gain, which persisted until day 49 of the treatment
- During the weaner period, pigs consumed about 10kg of feed, amounting to 5mg of strontium. This is a small economic cost that provides benefits to performance
- No benefit was shown economically or in pig performance and growth, to supplementing strontium during the grower or finisher stages.
Larger creep pellets for improved weaner growth
Gilt progeny are born lighter and often do not perform as well as progeny born to multiparous sows. This project included multiple trials that aimed to explore the reasons for this difference in performance and potential dietary interventions, which may help producers enhance progeny performance. One trial explored the effect that larger creep pellet size has on feed intake both before and after weaning.
- Total creep feed consumed in lactation was higher in litters offered the larger diameter (9mm) pellets. However, this did not cause an improvement in litter weaning weight for piglets born to gilts
- Growth rate and feed intake were both stimulated in pigs offered the larger diameter pellet pre-weaning
- The pellets offered benefits to piglets in the post-weaning period through lowered removal rate, and improved performance. This may be due to the increased feed-related exploratory behaviour shown by the greater disappearance of creep feed in lactation.
Optimising weaner feed intake
It is common practice for producers to include excess levels of some amino acids in pig diets to minimise growth variation in pigs. However, previous research has indicated an excess of protein and some amino acids can negatively affect feed intake and growth in weaner pigs.
This recently completed trial found:
- Excess lysine and leucine significantly lowered feed intake one to two hours post consumption. Lysine also lowered the duration of the first meal and increased the inter-meal interval. Leucine significantly increased the interval between meals and lowered the number of meals within the first two hours post-treatment
- Excess dietary lysine decreased feed intake by 4.1g per pig for every 1 percent above the recommended requirement levels in the feed in post-weaning pigs over a four-week post-weaning period
- As a practical example, a 25 percent excess margin in dietary lysine will result in lighter pigs by an average of 100g per pig, at the end of the post-weaning period.
For technical information on any of these topics, contact Dr Rebecca Athorn at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a copy of the final reports or related factsheets, contact Rachael Bryant at email@example.com
The theme for June will be Grower and Finisher Performance.