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Recommended Feed Formula for Piglets (Baby Pigs)

Piglets otherwise referred to as Baby pigs are the young pigs or newly delivered pigs from a pregnant sow. Colostrum is very important for the survival of a piglet (young pig or baby pig), so important to the level that a piglet that does not receive enough colostrum soon after birth has very limited chance of survival.

This is the reason why for a piglet and its continuing development, it is crucial to take up at least 250-300 g of colostrum in the first 24 hours after birth. Piglets are born without functioning or fully developed immune systems. They get the first antibodies from their mother’s colostrum, making it essential for immune function.

Feed quality is a key element of piglet rearing and lays the foundation for future growth and performance of the animal. The physiological requirements around the weaning period are very specific, demanding highly palatable rations that encourage feed intake and therefore optimizing performance. Nutritional demands change quickly during the first 6 weeks of life. The quality and choice of ingredients of starter feeds are crucial.  

The components need to be highly digestible and the nutrient and energy concentration in starter feeds must be high. The ingredients must be free of any contamination by bacteria, mycotoxins, etc.  

The use of 2-3 starter feeds, starting with creep feed up to a starter feed for weaned piglets (depending on the system) are necessary to support the animals in the best way. 

Weaning is a time of significant stress for the piglet. Its success depends on the conditions under which it is carried out (comfort, temperature, humidity, availability of water and feed). Feed consumption after weaning will be influenced by the quantity previously consumed during suckling (Lactarine, Carélac and Mailac).

Controlling piglet weaning is very important and should be centered to control the following objectives below:

1) Getting piglets to consume as soon as possible after weaning to minimize post-weaning loss of appetite, responsible for digestive problems: enteric colibacillosis, oedema, under-consumption.

2) Securing digestion: Controlled formulation, protein level, digestibility of nutrients, drinking water and feed acidification, pre- and pro-biotics, etc.

Successful weaning is based on a suitable pre-starter / first-stage program for a good start to consumption and control of digestion.

Feed Formula for Piglets (Baby Pigs) and How to Feed Them
Piglets (Baby pigs or Young pigs)

First-stage feeds (Glutamix, Sevramix and Optimix programme) provide transition from a milk diet to a cereal-based diet and optimise growth by controlling digestive difficulties.

2nd-stage feeds (Stantor, Mélior, etc.) promote growth and muscular build-up to develop carcass quality.

Lactarine is a feed designed for the early weaning of supernumeraries.

Vitalac solutions for piglets are available in the form of supplements (10 to 50%) and complete feeds.

The feeds you are going to produce for your piglets should be able to provide these particular needs:

  • Plant Proteins that are genuinely purified and highly digestible
  • Starch and sugars, energy sources and appetite stimulants
  • Sorbitol, a polyol, for its role in protecting the liver
  • Soluble fibre, which aids digestion and helps to prevent scouring

Read Also: Types of Pig Feeds and When to Feed Each

Starter feeds could be any feed that supports the piglets in early life and help to give them a good start.  

The two main types of starter feeds are: 

  1. Feed for suckling piglets, also known as creep feeds or pre-starters 
  2. Feed for weaned piglets  

(1) Creep feed / pre-starter: Offering creep feed in the first week of life next to the sow enables the piglets learning to eat solid feed. Feed intake is very low in the first two weeks of life, as milk makes up the majority of the diet.  

(2) Feed for weaned piglets : In nature, sows wean piglets gradually over 12 weeks. In current production systems, piglets are weaned between day 21 and 28 of life. At this age, piglets are rather vulnerable because neither the immune system, nor the digestive system is fully developed.  

In order to further stabilize the gut, weaner feeds should make use of the following feed additives: 

1) Enzymes: Non-starch-polysaccharides (NSP) degrading enzymes reduce viscosity and increase the availability of nutrients in the digesta. Phytase degrades the phytic acid complexes and increases the availability of phosphorus and also other nutrients. 

2) Acidifiers or Organic Acids: These help to reduce the pH-value in the stomach. This increases protein degradation and also reduces the bacterial load in the digesta. 

3) Probiotics. Beneficial bacteria stabilize the gut microbiota, by increasing the proportion of “good” bacteria to exclude pathogenic bacteria. 

4) Phytogenic feed additives or botanicals: Consisting of plant-based substances e.g. essential oils, these have a wide range of different functions, from increasing feed intake due to better taste, to increasing protein digestibility and fighting pathogens. 

5) Toxin binders: Mycotoxins and endotoxins can have detrimental effects on health and development of piglets. Avoiding these stress factors adds a lot to keeping piglets healthy during this vulnerable phase.

Read Also: Pig Feeding and Feeds

Now going back to the feed formula for your piglets, let us first briefly explain the different raw-materials (Ingredients) that would be required / needed as well as their different uses and importance to the health and growth of your piglets.

(1) Energy sources – Maize, wheat, and sorghum constitute the major energy sources of most nursery diets around the world. Barley and oat groats are also frequently used, whereas rye and triticale are not very popular because they are rich in anti-nutritional factors. Tapioca is also an excellent energy source.

Rice, especially broken rice, is used mainly in Asia, but cooked rice is used worldwide in high quality diets. Cereal by-products, such as those from the production of wheat flour or corn wet-milling are also used in diets for young pigs but not in diets immediately following weaning, and always in limited quantities because they tend to increase bulkiness and thus depress feed intake.

Oils are generally favored over animal fats for young pigs because they are more digestible. Thus, oils extracted from soybeans, maize, and sunflower are most frequently used during the first two weeks post-weaning, whereas animal fats, such as lard, white grease, and tallow, are favored in the later phases of the nursery period.

(2) Protein sources – Fish meal is an excellent source of protein for young pigs, yet price and availability frequently limit its use. Other major animalderived protein sources include dairy proteins, poultry meal, meat meal, and blood products (where permitted). Blood plasma protein is an established ingredient in nursery diets because its high content in immunoglobulins leads to improved growth performance.

Today, plasma has been replaced by the less expensive egg-derived immunoglobulins, that also pose no risk of transmitting BSE and other diseases. Common plant proteins include soybean meal, soybean protein (in early diets), wheat gluten, potato protein, peas, lupines, sunflower meal, faba beans, and lentils, depending on price and local availability.

Soybeans and most other plant protein sources are rich in anti-nutritional factors and thus, heat treatment is needed to make these ingredients suitable for young pigs. Unrefined plant proteins are frequently restricted in the first two weeks post-weaning to avoid inflammatory reactions to antigenic proteins that are usually found in these ingredients. But, past the initial post-weaning phase, plant protein sources supply the majority of amino acids in practical diets for young pigs.

(3) Growth-promoting minerals – Copper sulphate and zinc oxide are well established mineral salts that enhance growth performance and reduce symptoms of diarrhea in post-weaned pigs.

Up to 3000 ppm zinc from zinc oxide, or less from new forms of potentiated zinc oxide, are frequently added in diets during the first couple weeks post-weaning to enhance growth performance and reduce symptoms of diarrhoea.

Also, up to 250 ppm copper from copper sulfate is recommended for the remainder nursery period, but this usually drops to 125 ppm due to local regulations. The effect of these mineral salts are not additive, but their action is additive to that of antimicrobial agents, including organic acids.

Read Also: Proper Ways of Feeding Pigs

The Feed Formula for Piglets

The following are sample feed formulae to prepare the feed for pigs at various production stages using a total compounding quantity of 1,000kg (1 ton).

(1) Sample Pig Starter or Creep Feed Formula

IngredientQuantity (KG)
Maize550 kg
Groundnut Cake (GNC)140 kg
Brewers Dry Grains (BDG)133 kg
Soybean Meal (SBM)90 kg
Fish meal50 kg
Bone meal31 kg
Salt2.5 kg
Methionine1 kg
Pig Premix2.5 kg
Total1,000 kg

(2) Sample Pig Grower Feed Formula

IngredientQuantity (KG)
Maize250 kg
Groundnut Cake (GNC)80 kg
Cassava peels100 kg
Brewers Dry Grains (BDG)150 kg
Wheat Offal274 kg
Soybean Meal (SBM)50 kg
Palm Kernel Cake (PKC)62 kg
Bone meal28 kg
Salt2.5 kg
Methionine1 kg
Pig Premix2.5 kg
Total1,000 kg

(3) Sample Pig Fattener Feed Formula

IngredientQuantity (KG)
Maize220 kg
Groundnut Cake (GNC)30 kg
Cassava peels100 kg
Brewers Dry Grains (BDG)130 kg
Wheat Offal274 kg
Maize Bran50 kg
Soybean Meal (SBM)20 kg
Palm Kernel Cake (PKC)150 kg
Bone meal20 kg
Salt2.5 kg
Methionine1 kg
Pig Premix2.5 kg
Total1,000 kg

(4) Sample Pig Breeder Feed Formula

IngredientQuantity (KG)
Maize200 kg
Groundnut Cake (GNC)30 kg
Cassava peels100 kg
Brewers Dry Grains (BDG)150 kg
Wheat Offal299 kg
Maize bran15 kg
Soybean Meal (SBM)50 kg
Palm Kernel Cake (PKC)120 kg
Bone meal30 kg
Salt2.5 kg
Methionine1 kg
Pig Premix2.5 kg
Total1,000 kg
Formulas Credit

Read Also: Anatomy of Fishes: Female Fish and their Reproductive Strategies

How the Piglets Feed should be manufactured

According to research, Feed preparation continues post-formulation when the feed must be actually manufactured. Here, certain processes can increase the nutritive value of piglet feeds and make them more acceptable as nourishment.

Grinding – The degree of fineness of ingredients in diets for young pigs has received considerable attention in scientific literature but not as much in commercial practice. It is generally accepted that a finer particle size increases the surface available for enzymatic digestion resulting, thus, in better nutrient digestibility.

In general, 1.3% improvement in feed efficiency should be expected for each 100-micron reduction in particle size. An accepted particle size for maize is about 600 microns. For soybean meal, a range of 600 to 900 microns is considered sufficient.

Pellet quality – Pelleting improves growth rate and feed efficiency by about 10% in nursery pigs due to improved nutrient ingestion (pellets are less bulky than meal) and improved digestibility.

Pellet quality is traditionally associated with (index >90%) durability. A durable pellet should not necessarily be a hard pellet because performance can be depressed by as much as 10%-15% when pigs have trouble chewing their feed. Another aspect of pellet quality is size, and more precisely diameter.

Research has indicated that piglets as young as 14-21 days old can easily cope with any pellet size ranging from 1 to 12 mm. Since wastage may be excessive in pellets larger than 3-4 mm, most commercial piglet diets have an average pellet diameter of 2 mm.

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