Dairy makes all piglets grow – Lactose

For raising pigs successfully one might want to take a look at the world of dairy cows. Milk, the primary raw material for many dairy products, is a complex liquid that serves as a complete and natural source of nutrition for young mammals. Directly from birth, piglets are genetically programmed to optimally digest all nutrients that are present in milk. In this way, the goodness of dairy ingredients can help piglets as well as their mothers better overcome the often challenging moments of farrowing and weaning. The right feed and nutrition make all the difference in achieving the best results. Dairy is packed with the right nutrients, which are very palatable and easy to digest.

But what are these ‘right’ nutrients and why are they so important for a piglet?

In this series of articles ‘dairy makes all piglets grow’ we will share more on this further. In the first article, the significance of the nutrient Dairy protein was discussed. But there is more. Let’s have a look at the nutrient Lactose.

The Science Behind Piglet Growth

The Vital Role of Lactose in Piglet Nutrition

When it comes to the nutrition of suckling piglets, lactose stands out as a crucial component in their diet, providing a foundation for healthy growth and development. As the primary carbohydrate found in milk, lactose offers a unique set of benefits that are essential for their well-being.

Nourishing Energy Source

Lactose (a disaccharide sugar) is the main sugar in sow milk and an easily digestible carbohydrate providing a valuable energy contribution for suckling piglets. This is because lactose is the most stable nutrient that provides piglets with energy during the suckling period. As piglets have high energy requirements for growth and thermoregulation (energy to maintain your body temperature), the easily digestible nature of lactose ensures that piglets can efficiently convert it into usable energy to meet the needs of all the processes taking place in their body.

Optimal digestibility

One of the key advantages of lactose in piglet nutrition is its high digestibility. Directly from birth, piglets are enzymatically equipped to digest lactose, by the production of the digestive enzyme lactase in the small intestine. This enzyme splits lactose into glucose and galactose molecules, and these two molecules can be absorbed into the animal’s body to be used as an energy source. Glucose is preferably taken up in the small intestine and is used as a direct energy source. Galactose can be metabolized to glucose in the liver and then slowly released into the blood as an energy source providing energy more over time.

Lactose is an essential source of energy for suckling piglets. However, the easy digestibility of lactose decreases over time as the production of the digestive enzyme lactase decreases.

Supporting Gut Health

In addition to its role as an energy source, lactose plays a crucial role in maintaining gut health in piglets. Lactose can act as a prebiotic and promote the growth of beneficial intestinal microflora, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, which contribute to a balanced microbial population and support digestive health. By promoting a healthy intestinal microflora, lactose helps to enhance nutrient absorption, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disorders, like diarrhea in piglets. Additionally, the fermentation of lactose by lactic acid bacteria in the stomach results in the production of lactic acid. Lactic acid decreases the stomach pH and maintains gastric acidity, which improves protein digestion.

Encouraging Milk intake

Lactose not only provides essential nutrients but with its sweet taste (sugar) it also improves the palatability of the diet, which leads to an increase in feed intake. As a result, also higher quantities of the other nutrients present in the feed will be consumed, which will contribute to the growth of the piglet.

So, Lactose, that sweet smell smells like more!

And that it certainly does, as lactose plays a vital role in the nutrition of piglets, offering a rich source of energy with optimal digestion, supporting gut health, and stimulating milk intake. The nutrient Lactose is indispensable for every suckling piglet and by understanding the importance of lactose in their diets, piglet feed like piglet milk, creep feed, and weaning diets can be formulated that meet the specific dietary requirements of these piglets, ensuring their healthy growth and success.

Check out the range of Porcolac piglet milk products and the Serolat Lactose concentrates.

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Serolat Concentrates and Prelac
Serolat Lactose
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