An increased weaning age and liquid feed enhances weight gain compared to piglets fed dry feed pre-weaning

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Increasing age and providing liquid creep feed could potentially increase the solid feed intake in pre-weaning piglets, which may in turn promote gut maturation and post-weaning feed intake, possibly lessening the severity of the growth-check associated with the suckling-to-weaning transition. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate if feeding dry- versus liquid creep feed (DF vs. LF) and weaning in week 4 or 5 (4W or 5W) could accelerate maturational changes to the small intestines of pre-weaning piglets by increasing digestive and absorptive capacity. In a 2 × 2 factorial study the effect of weaning age (WA) and feeding strategy (FS) on weaning weight, pre-weaning accumulated gain (AG), and average daily gain was measured for 12 923 piglets. A subpopulation of 15 piglets from each treatment group (4WDF, 4WLF, 5WDF and 5WLF; n = 60) were sacrificed to assess the effects of WA and FS on weight of digestive organs, activity of maltase, lactase and sucrase, and gene expression level of sodium-glucose linked transporter 1 (SGLT-1), glucose transporter 2 (GLUT2) and peptide transporter 1 (PepT1) in the proximal part of the small intestine (SI). No interactions were found but average weaning weight was affected by WA (P < 0.001) and FS (P < 0.001), where 5W were heavier than 4W and LF were heavier than DF. Correspondingly, the average daily gain (ADG) was affected by both WA (P = 0.003) and FS (P < 0.001). Only WA affected the relative weight of the digestive organs, where stomach weight, weight of SI and colon weight were heavier in 5W piglets compared to 4W. Lactase activity tended to decrease with age (P = 0.061), but there was no difference in the activity of maltase or sucrase between any of the treatment groups. Similarly, there was no differences in gene expression level of SGLT1, GLUT2 or PepT1 between neither the two ages nor feeding strategies. In conclusion, both WA and FS affect weaning weight and weight gain of piglets in the pre-weaning period.

Udgave nummer5
StatusUdgivet - 2023

Bibliografisk note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to acknowledge the staff and owner of the commercial herd for supporting the trial and rearing the animals. Additionally, acknowledgement is owed to Marlene Nytofte Nielsen and Sabine Stoltenberg Grove for taking part in the sample and data curation. Assistant Professor Leonardo de Knegt and Professor Anders Ringgaard Kristensen, from the University of Copenhagen, are acknowledged for help and sparring on the statistical analysis performed in this publication. Lastly, thanks to Per Kania and all the other colleagues at The Department for Parasitology and Aquatic Pathobiology, for allowing the usage of your facilities and welcoming us warmly. This experiment was financially supported by SEGES Innovation P/S, The Pig Levy Fund and Research Director R. Nørtoft Thomsen's Grant Promoting Danish Animal Science.

Funding Information:
This experiment was financially supported by SEGES Innovation P/S, The Pig Levy Fund and Research Director R. Nørtoft Thomsen’s Grant Promoting Danish Animal Science.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)

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