Improving adaptation to weaning: Effect of intermittent suckling regimens on piglet feed intake, growth, and gut characteristics

M. Berkeveld, P. Langendijk, N.M. Soede, B. Kemp, M.A.M. Taverne, J.H.M. Verheijden, N. Kuijken, A.P. Koets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Daily separation of sows and piglets during lactation, intermittent suckling (IS), improves feed intake and postweaning adaptation in piglets. The aim of the current study was to determine how, in piglets that have been subjected to IS, age at weaning and the duration of the preceding IS period contribute to postweaning adaptation through effects on feed intake, growth, and gut characteristics. All piglets had ad libitum access to creep feed from d 7. Litters were subjected to conventional weaning (CW) or to 1 of 3 IS regimens. In CW, litters (n = 29) had continuous access to the sow until weaning (d 26, d 0 = farrowing). During IS, litters had access to the sow between 1600 and 0600 h. Litters in the IS treatments were subjected to IS 1) from d 19 onward and weaned at d 26 (IS19–7D, n = 33), 2) from d 19 onward and weaned at d 33 (IS19–14D, n = 28), or 3) from d 26 onward and weaned at d 33 (IS26–7D, n = 33). The IS19–7D regimen resulted in a relative growth check within the first 2 d after weaning similar to CW litters (72 ± 13 and 90 ± 7%, respectively), but in a greater piglet growth (P = 0.014) and feed intake (P = 0.001) between d 2 and 7 postweaning. Moreover, IS19–7D was not associated with a (further) reduction in villus height as observed at d 2 postweaning in CW litters. In IS piglets weaned after an extended lactation (d 33), a markedly smaller weaning-associated relative growth check was observed shortly postweaning (11 ± 18 and 32 ± 19% for IS19–14D and IS26–7D litters, respectively). In these litters, feed intake and growth within the first 2 d after weaning were slightly greater when piglets were subjected to IS for 2 wk (IS19–14D) rather than for 1 wk (IS26–7D; P = 0.032 and P = 0.037 for feed intake and growth, respectively). Irrespective of duration of IS, weaning at d 33 with IS was not associated with a reduction in villus height. Irrespective of treatment, plasma citrulline concentrations were reduced at d 2 and 8 postweaning compared with the values at weaning (P 0.01). No correlation was observed between postweaning plasma citrulline concentrations and postweaning small intestinal villus height. This study indicates that 1 wk of IS before weaning at d 26 of lactation improves feed intake and growth between d 2 and 7 postweaning and does not result in a reduction of villus height as observed in CW piglets, although it did not prevent a profound growth check shortly after weaning. However, combining 1 wk of IS with an extended lactation improved postweaning adaptation markedly in terms of growth, feed intake, and gut characteristics. Increasing the duration of IS from 1 to 2 wk slightly improved growth and feed intake shortly after weaning, but the contribution to postweaning adaptation seemed to be relatively small compared with extending lactation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3156-3166
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume87
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Keywords

  • small-intestine
  • crypt depth
  • extended lactation
  • villous height
  • pigs
  • performance
  • citrulline
  • period

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