06/19/2017 12:50 PM
After farrowing and care of newborn piglets, the next important juncture is weaning. If the process goes smoothly, it can cut days to market and add pounds of pork so it’s important to control what you can. These of those factors are feed intake, feed quality and weaning age.
Feed Intake Critical
Pigs that are used to eating creep feed before they’re weaned have an advantage over those that haven’t, according to research.
Frédéric Vangroenweghe with Elanco Animal Health in Brussels, Belgium and other researchers looked at piglet feed intake during the end of the lactation period and how it impacted post-weaning diarrhea incidence and survival rate.
“Post-weaning diarrhea (PWD), also called post-weaning (pw) enteric colibacillosis, in pigs remains a major cause of economic losses for the pig industry,” he said in a presentation at the 2017 American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting. “PWD typically causes mild to severe watery diarrhea between five and 10 days after weaning and is caused primarily by enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC).
“Besides the presence of the pathogenic bacteria, other influencing factors can impact the pathogenesis of the disease, such as feed intake before and after weaning.”
The objective of Vangroenweghe’s study was to identify the relationship between piglet feed intake at the end of the lactation period with the subsequent mortality or survival in the first two week post-weaning.
He and his co-researchers used a 600-sow farm with diagnosed problems of PWD. Piglets were followed from seven days before weaning until 14 days post-weaning. A pre-weaning creep feed was added to the feed during the lactation period. He reported that the piglets of 20 litters, evenly distributed over different sow parities, were included in the study, and all piglets were individually identified. The relationship between the feed intake, post-weaning clinical diarrhea presence and survival rate was statistically analyzed.
“Results show that heavy piglets tend to have a lower feed intake pre-weaning, subsequently resulting in a higher risk for diarrhea occurrence and mortality,” Vangroenweghe.
He added that the results clearly show the importance of sufficient feed intake pre-weaning for all piglets, to help them perform well during the immediate post-weaning period under the stress of pathogenic E. coli bacteria.
“Large piglets, pre-weaning, are mostly positioned at the best producing teat of the sow’s udder, and therefore these piglets tend to eat less pre-weaning creep feed, resulting in less adaptation of their intestinal flora and digestive capacity to the diets provided during the post-weaning period.”
He said producers’ ultimate goal should be to stimulate the heaviest piglets to attain sufficient feed intake to overcome the associated post-weaning problems.