Agroscope Liebefeld-Posieux Research Station ALP, rte de la Tioleyre 4, 1725 Posieux

Whole cow’s milk facilitates feed intake in newly weaned piglets

A low feed intake during the first days after weaning predisposes piglets to diarrhea. Adding expensive milk byproducts such as whey or skim milk powder to their feed are used to stimulate their appetite. The effect of a diet which consisted of a piglet feed containing no milk byproducts supplemented with whole cow’s milk on piglet performance was examined during the first three weeks after weaning. The fresh milk and the dry feed were automatically mixed in the feed trough at intervals ranging between one half and two hours. Compared to their 67 littermates receiving the dry feed mixed with water via an identical feeder, the 67 piglets which received the diet consisting of two to three parts of milk per part of dry feed grew faster during the first week after weaning (164 g vs. 122 g per day; P < 0.01). Milk feeding neither influenced growth during the two subsequent weeks nor during the whole three week experimental period. On farms where pigs are kept in addition to dairy cows, offering the newly weaned piglets a liquid feed consisting of fresh cow’s milk plus a low priced piglet feed without added milk byproducts via an automatic feeder is a practical way to increase the feed intake immediately after weaning.

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