Postweaning growth check in pigs is markedly reduced by intermittent suckling and extended lactation

M. Berkeveld, P. Langendijk, H.M.G. van Beers-Schreurs, A.P. Koets, M.A.M. Taverne, J.H.M. Verheijden

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine whether intermittent suckling (IS) combined with an extended lactation can reduce postweaning growth check in pigs. Three weaning regimens [ conventional weaning (CW), IS with 6-h separation intervals (IS6), and IS with 12-h separation intervals (IS12)] were compared. In CW (n = 17 litters), litters had continuous access to the sow until weaning (d 21, d 0 = farrowing). In IS6 and IS12, litters were separated from the sow for 12 h/d, beginning at d 14 and lasting until weaning (d 41 to 45). Litters were with the sow from 1400 to 2000 and from 0200 to 0800 (IS6, n = 14) or between 2000 and 0800 (IS12, n = 14). Litter size was standardized within 2 d after farrowing by crossfostering, resulting in an average litter size of 10.9 +/- 1.8 piglets. Piglets had ad libitum access to creep feed from d 7 onward. One week after the onset of IS (d 20), creep feed intake was increased in litters from both IS groups compared with CW litters (P <0.05). Both IS groups consumed considerable amounts of creep feed before weaning (d 41 to 45). Total feed intake before weaning was greater (P = 0.004) in IS12 (3,808 +/- 469 g/ piglet) than in IS6 (2,717 +/- 404 g/ piglet). In comparison, CW litters consumed 18 +/- 9 g/ piglet before weaning (d 21). Irrespective of weaning regimen, total feed intake of litters before weaning was highly correlated with postweaning feed intake (P <0.001). Furthermore, in all treatment groups, total preweaning feed intake was correlated with postweaning growth (P <0.10). Irrespective of treatment, piglets suckling anterior teats grew faster than piglets suckling middle or posterior teats during the first 2 wk of lactation. Body weights at the end of the experiment (d 55) were similar among weaning regimens. Onset of IS induced a growth check in both IS groups (34% for IS12 and 22% for IS6). Only a mild growth check was observed after weaning of IS litters (14% for both IS groups). However, a serious growth check (98%) was observed after weaning of CW litters. Results of the current study indicate that IS stimulated feed intake during lactation, providing a more gradual transition to weaning. Because the IS6 regimen did not prevent the growth check after the onset of IS and is rather laborious, we suggest that IS12 might be preferable for a practical implementation of IS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)258-266
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume85
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007

Keywords

  • feed-intake characteristics
  • digestive enzyme-activity
  • housed weanling pigs
  • early-weaned pig
  • small-intestine
  • boar exposure
  • crypt depth
  • performance
  • sows
  • consumption

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