September 2021

Soft pellet creep feed for piglets improves pre-weaning feed intake and promote intestinal health after weaning.

Creep feed consumption is believed to help initiate and promote the development of intestinal and digestive enzymes, which may help piglets use alternative food sources after milk is removed. Research on creep feed has been focused on feed additives, nutritional indicators and feed formula. However, the effects of the physical form of feed on intestinal development in piglets have received less attention. In addition, whether the feed hardness and moisture content affect piglet growth performance and intestinal health remain unclear. This study aimed to determine the effects of soft pellet creep feed (SPCF) on growth performance and intestinal development in piglets. A total of 18 sows and their litters of crossbred piglets (14±2 days, 3.73±0.72 kg) were assigned to one of three dietary groups receiving i) powder creep feed (PCF), ii) hard pellet creep feed (HPCF) or iii) SPCF during the pre-weaning period. At d21, piglets were weaned and kept with the same litter and diet until d31. At d31, one piglet per pen was selected for sampling. Biochemical parameters were analyzed from serum, intestinal samples were used for morphological measurements and to determine sucrase and maltase activity, and intestinal content was used to microbiota analysis.

In the pre-weaning period, the average daily feed intake and average daily dry matter intake were significantly higher in the SPCF group than the HPCF group. In the post-weaning and entire experimental period, the different diets had no significant effect on growth performance. At 10 d after weaning, the serum glucose concentration was lower in the SPCF group than the other groups. Higher villus height and lower crypt depth in the jejunum were also observed in the SPCF group than the other groups. Meanwhile, in the duodenum and jejunum, the SPCF group had a higher villus height to crypt depth ratio than the other groups. Furthermore, the higher threshold cycle values of lactic acid bacteria and lower threshold cycle values of Clostridium, Enterobacter and Escherichia coli were also observed in the SPCF group, and the sucrase and maltase activity was higher in the SPCF group than the other groups in duodenum and ileum.

The SPCF improved pre-weaning feed intake and decreased the negative effects of weaning stress in the intestine in piglets.

Chen H, Wang C, Wang Y, Chen Y, Wan M, Zhu J, Zhu A.
Effects of soft pellet creep feed on pre-weaning and post-weaning performance and intestinal development in piglets.
Animal Bioscience. 2021; 34(4): 714–723.