Focusing on early piglet nutrition can increase productivity throughout the life of the pig. Pork producers should work for nutrition that stimulates gut development, according to Dr. Kola Ajuwon, associate professor for Purdue University.

"The newly born pig has a very immature gut at birth and it's still not ready to start digesting feed. That's why it is essential that newly born piglet is able to get enough colostrum and milk because those factors help in the development of the gut," Ajuwon said. 

Usually around three weeks of age, piglets make the switch from their mother's milk to solid feed. 

"From birth to weaning the gut undergoes critical development stages. The gut structures expand tremendously in size as well as capacity to digest and absorb nutrients. So, one of the key factors is that the pig has to have feed as soon as it is born. It has to have feed because it's that process of ingesting feed, taking colostrum, taking milk, that is what really stimulates the development of the gut," Ajuwon said. "Producers also have to be aware that, in that litter of pigs, they have to look at the very small pigs, the vulnerable pigs because those are the ones that the larger pigs out compete and those are the ones that go off feed and don't get enough feed. They need to make sure their pigs eat very well after birth and also keep an extra eye on the smaller pigs in the litter."

A good gut sets the pig up for good longterm health and growth performance, Ajuwon said.