CREEP FEEDING PIGLETS


Creep feeding is an important part of the pig's life cycle. The practice introduces piglets to a solid diet while they are still sucking, giving them a much better start in life. Solid feed promotes gut and digestive enzyme development in piglets beginning in the first few weeks of life. As a result, piglets are able to digest nutrients from sources other than milk. It is also intended to encourage post-weaning feed intake, which can positively affect production in the pen and increase yields.

As the age of weaning approaches, creep feeding becomes more important and beneficial. As piglets grow, so does their demand for nutrients, and as they get older, this demand outstrips the sow's ability to supply it, as the sow's milk yield peaks at around three weeks and then gradually declines.

What exactly is Creep Feeding?
Creep feeding is a transition strategy in swine production designed to successfully introduce piglets to a solid diet and prepare their digestive system for weaning.


The value of creep feeding cannot be overstated. Piglets grow rapidly in the weeks following birth and are vulnerable to environmental, social, and nutritional stress because their immune systems are still developing. Within three weeks, a piglet's nutritional needs outstrip the sow's ability to provide them. In fact, the milk production of a sow peaks in less than a month and then gradually declines. Creep feeding is used to increase piglets' nutrient intake and familiarize them with solid food prior to weaning, from pre-weaning in the farrowing room to post-weaning in the nursery.

The Fundamentals of Good Creep Feeding:

  • Keep creep feed fresh and clean, and out of the sow's reach.
  • Begin creep feeding at seven to ten days of age by offering creep on a flat surface, such as a shallow tray (heavy metal or plastic trays that can hook into the slats)
  • Place trays close to the piglets but not under direct heat as this will turn the feed stale too quickly; also, keep feed away from the dunging area
  • Because piglets are active and unlikely to be suckled for some time, provide creep while the sows are feeding.
  • Feed to appetite rather than overeating. Litters frequently eat little and then suddenly begin to eat more.
  • Store creep feed in a cool place and keep bags closed at all times to prevent feed from absorbing farrowing house odors and/or becoming rancid.
  • Be committed: creep feeding is more successful the more time and effort is devoted to it
  • Remember the importance of the sow: it is crucial to maximise milk yield, she will be providing the majority of the piglet's nutrition
  • Utilisation of creep feed should always be considered as a supplement for increased benefit rather than a replacement for milk.

     

BENEFITS OF CREEP FEEDING

Though creep feeding cannot guarantee greater weaning weights, the main benefit comes from enhanced post-weaning feed intake and better development of the gastro-intestinal tract. Because weaning is such a stressful period for the piglet, creep feeding can: 

  • Prepare the gastro-intestinal tract 
  • Improve the overall health and well-being as it enters the nursery.
  • Piglets adapt easily to feedstuffs after weaning
  • Creep feeding improves the post-weaning growth performance of piglets
  • Creep feeding influences reproductive performance of piglets, nutritional load, body weight (BW)


The importance of creep feeding in the development of a pig should not be underestimated. Creep feeding prepares piglets' gastro-intestinal tracts, improving the animal's overall health and well-being and, as a result, increasing pig performance as it enters the nursery. Easy access, and fresh feed in a stress free environment can easily increase your yields.


 

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