The way we offer feed is most likely just as important as the composition of the feed.
This is according to the Dutch feed company Coppens that carried out research in cooperation with Cargill and Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands.
Early Foraging project
The researchers wanted to gather more scientific data on the effect of early feeding on gut development and microbiota in piglets was also investigated. Within a 4-year project (the Early Foraging project), trials are carried out to look at ways to make the suckling piglets take up solid feed as quickly as possible. This can limit problems related to a weaning dip.
The first results show that there was an effect of diversity in feed (both in terms of size and composition). Piglets that were fed 2 types of feed (including a large piglet pellet) had a higher total intake of solid feed and also consumed more of the feed than the control piglets. A follow-up test showed that the early intake of solid feed leads to an accelerated colonisation of specific microbes in the intestine. These microbes break down complex carbohydrates. In addition, the trial showed that the digestive system was better developed in the ‘better eaters’: They have a heavier pancreas and small intestine and a longer colon.
The project will run for another 1.5 years. The researchers will use this time to investigate whether and how they can respond to the natural rooting behaviour and curiosity of the pig by offering feed in an alternative way.
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