Piglet Observation – Part VI

Enhancing Nutrition for Improved Piglet Growth

Instead of increasing feed levels, it’s worth considering an improvement in nutrition. Selecting the right starter feed regime is vital to minimise the growth slowdown that our Oxford Sandy and Black (OSB) piglets may experience during the transition from liquid to solid feed.

Feeding a high-quality starter diet, supplemented with extra feed (matching the last diet of the starter regime), can enhance the performance of low birth weight OSB piglets up to 10 weeks of age. This approach can result in similar nursery exit weights for both low birth weight and normal birth weight pigs.

However, it is important to note that feeding a high-quality diet is less effective when introduced at nine weeks of age, indicating a critical intervention window.

Research indicates that not only do low birth weight pigs benefit from an improved dietary regime, but it is also cost-effective for producers. This approach yields a higher return per pig compared to a standard commercial regime, which has a lower margin over feed cost. For normal birth weight pigs, the standard commercial feed regime remains the most economical choice with the greatest margin over feed cost.

At weaning, separating OSB low birth weight pigs allows for selective feeding with an improved regime, as heavier OSB pigs are better suited for a standard commercial diet.

Further research reveals that nutritional treatments at different stages can impact outcomes such as:

  • Specialised diets introduced at weaning can enhance performance throughout the nursery phase and are more cost-effective than using a standard commercial regime.
  • Offering supplementary milk doesn’t significantly improve the performance of low birth weight piglets, but it does reduce birth weight variation in mixed litters.
  • Low birth weight pigs may not experience substantial benefits from a diet higher in amino acids and energy when fed from nine weeks of age.

The Oxford Sandy and Black Pig Group is UK’s only pig breed that is a registered charity in England & Wales (1190469) and Scotland (SCO52662). We are creating a better future for our breed, the bloodlines and its breeding potential together with our Independent Pork Producers, Breeders and Keepers. Please consider clicking our donate button so we may continue to look after our breed and our supporters.

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