Newly weaned pigs are in an extremely energy deficient state, says Bob Goodband and Mike Tokach, Kansas State University swine nutritionists.

That’s why maximizing feed intake is so important. Here are some key points to remember:

  • Feed intake drives growth performance.
  • Complex diets increase feed intake during first couple of weeks after weaning.
  • Increased flow of digesta through the gastro-intestinal tract mechanically inhibits proliferation of bacteria.
  • Highly digestible ingredients reduce the burden on the gut’s absorptive capacity.
  • Diet complexity must be reduced rapidly as the impact on feed intake declines.

In addition, the Kansas State nutritionists say key components of the nursery diet include high-quality, cost-effective ingredients like plasma and lactose to drive feed intake. Other protein sources like fish meal, blood meal and synthetic amino acids could be included in the diet. The goal is to increase amino acid levels while minimizing soybean meal. Increasing amino acids in nursery diets has several results including:

  • Increased diet cost per ton.
  • Similar feed cost per pound of gain, due to improved feed-to-gain ratio.
  • Heavier pigs. The expected result is about 1 pound heavier pig when incorporated in diets for 15- to 25-pound pigs; and approximately 1.2 pounds additional weight when included in diets for 25- to 50-pound pigs.
  • Increased returns. Approximate value of 45 cents to 60 cents per pig.