Creep feed provision may ease weaning, hence we determined the impact of providing fibrous creep feed before weaning and adding this feed to the post-weaning diet on piglet behavior and performance. Pre-weaning, litters with on average 12 piglets were given creep feed (CF, n = 12 litters) or not (NF, n = 10 litters). Post-weaning, piglets (n = 8 pens with 4 piglets/treatment) were given a weaner diet (CON) or weaner diet supplemented with creep feed (CS). Behaviors were scored in the home pen at d11, 16, 22 and 27 after birth and at wk 1 and 2 post-weaning. Feed intake, growth and fecal consistency were measured up to d14 post-weaning. A blood sample was taken at d2, 15 and 29 after birth and d2, 5 and 14 post-weaning. CF-piglets consumed on average 397 ± 71 g creep feed before weaning. CF-piglets grew faster in the last week before weaning than NF-piglets (249 ± 7 vs. 236 ± 11 g/d, F(1, 18) = 5.81, P = 0.03). However, CF- and NF-piglets did not differ in weaning weight, within-litter coefficient of variation in weaning weight, behaviors in the farrowing and weaner pen, and haptoglobin concentrations. Creep feed supplementation enhanced feed exploration at wk 2 post-weaning (0.29 ± 0.08 vs. 0.11 ± 0.03%, F(1, 27) = 5.27, P = 0.03), but did not affect other post-weaning behaviors. Pre-weaning creep feed provision and post-weaning creep feed supplementation did not affect overall feed intake, growth, feed efficiency and fecal consistency for the first 14 days post-weaning, neither body weight at d14 post-weaning. Nevertheless, CF-piglets had a lower within-pen coefficient of variation in body weight at d14 post-weaning than NF-piglets (13.6 ± 1.9 vs. 15.1 ± 1.5%, F(1, 26) = 6.89, P = 0.01). In conclusion, pre-weaning creep feed provision and post-weaning creep feed supplementation had no clear effects on piglet behavior and performance.
- feed intake
- feeding strategies