Dairy makes all piglets grow

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 knowledge on this subject. Starting with the nutrient dairy proteins.

The Science Behind Piglet Growth

Understanding Dairy Proteins’ Significance’

When looking at the composition of milk a significant part is protein. Sow milk consists of ±20% dry matter and from this dry matter, ±24-27% is protein. Dairy ingredients used in many piglet feed applications are of cow milk origin, which contains a dry matter content of ±13% of which ±25% is protein. Protein, one of the macronutrients (next to carbohydrates and fats) has a wide range of functions and is essential for a piglet’s growth and development. So is protein crucial for the growth of all organ systems including bones and muscles, and is required for the structure, function, and regulation of the body tissues and organs.

All essential amino acids in an optimal profile

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins, and they are linked together through peptide bonds to form protein chains. In total 20 amino acids can be combined in various sequences to create a vast diversity of proteins contributing to different important functions in the animal body and growth. These 20 different amino acids are divided into two types of amino acids, essential and non-essential amino acids. The difference between them is that essential amino acids cannot be synthesized by the body and must be obtained through the diet, while non-essential amino acids can be synthesized by the body. This means that it is important that the right amount of essential amino acids is supplied in the diet of the animal to prevent these amino acids become limited or unavailable in the piglet body and reduce the growth. Protein from dairy ingredients contains all these essential amino acids in an optimal profile, making them a very important nutritional source for piglets.

Importance of dairy protein pre- and post-weaning

Due to low Pepsin and Trypsin activity in a young animal’s body, which are enzymes related to protein digestion, the quality of raw materials providing protein to the feed formulation of young piglets is of major importance. It is widely known that the digestibility of dairy protein compared to other commonly used (vegetable) protein sources is significantly higher. Additionally, dairy protein doesn’t contain any Anti-Nutritional Factors (ANFs) as compared to other non-dairy proteins. Resulting in a lower risk of non-digested protein present in the hindgut of the young piglet which can lead to health problems, like diarrhea. To enable the growth of young animals, dairy protein is therefore essential in a piglet diet.

In the first weeks of lactation, a high (or solely) dairy inclusion is crucial. For instance by providing in a piglet milk replacer. To prepare the animals for vegetable protein digestion post-weaning, a combination of dairy protein and highly digestible vegetable protein should be made in the creep feed (prestarter) that is fed pre-weaning.

Dairy protein also brings a benefit in the early post-weaning phase. At the moment of weaning, piglets need to adapt to a lot of changing factors. For instance, they are moved to a different pen, they have different pen mates, different environmental temperatures, and different feed available. In this case, post-weaning health problems could occur. To support piglets in this stressful period, providing highly digestible protein sources is of major importance.

So, Dairy protein, that’s the way to g(r)o(w)!

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

Milk ingredients of the highest quality, produced by the most dedicated farmers in the Netherlands are the basis of these products.

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