The costliest diet you feed goes into young nursery pigs. Ingredients such as spray-dried porcine plasma and dried skim milk are expensive, though effective, sources of nutrition.

Another product ù spray-dried wheat gluten ù shows potential to provide excellent pig performance at a lower cost than the previous options.

Produced during the milling of hard red wheat, spray-dried wheat gluten offers several benefits in a phase-1 nursery diet.

  • Young pigs find it more digestible than soybean meal.
  • It’s less expensive than spray-dried porcine plasma.
  • It improves pellet quality without the need for binding agents if used at 2.5 percent or more of the diet.
  • Trials show it promotes pig growth better than dried skim milk. It’s also cheaper than dried skim milk.

At Kansas State University, a research team of Brian Richert, Lark Burnham, Joe Hancock and Robert Hines conducted nursery trials with wheat gluten from 1991 to 1995. Results showed consistent benefits of spray-dried wheat gluten.

One trial showed an 18 percent boost in average daily gain compared to pigs receiving dried skim milk. A second trial found a 13 percent boost in average daily gain for pigs weaned at 23 days and staying in the nursery for 37 days.

A 1993 trial found pigs fed a combination of spray-dried wheat gluten and spray-dried porcine plasma boasted gains of 34.3 pounds in the 35-day experiment. Pigs fed wheat gluten gained 32.2 pounds and those fed porcine plasma alone gained 31.9 pounds. A control group gained only 29.8 pounds.

Wheat-gluten diet costs were $1.22 per pig less than the plasma diet.

A 1995 trial found using a 50/50 combination of spray-dried wheat gluten and spray-dried porcine plasma offered better average daily gains than any other combination of the two products. And it did so at 8 percent less cost than 100 percent spray-dried porcine plasma.