News

Over 30 years of nutritional
expertise and excellence

Colostrum Powering Our Piglets

With our hyper prolific sows producing increased numbers of born alive and greater numbers of light piglets, the role of colostrum in maximising lifetime performance has never been more important.

Colostrum – Powering Our Piglets

With our hyper prolific sows producing increased numbers of born alive and greater numbers of light piglets, the role of colostrum in maximising lifetime performance has never been more important.

Colostrum, the first milk produced by mammary glands in the late stages of pregnancy and in the first 24 hours after parturition is crucial to the survival of piglets for a number of reasons:

 

  • It is rich in three important immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA and IgM), supplying the piglets with passive immunity, essential in providing protection to the piglets.
  • It reduces mortality, and
  • Improves lifetime performance.

 

 

Importance of immunoglobulins passed via colostrum

Bland et. al., 2003 showed that with passive immunity to the piglet being prevented via the placenta, piglets are born devoid of any protection. Therefore, maximising the transfer of immunoglobulins within colostrum is key to kickstart the survival of piglets and lifetime growth potential. These immunoglobulins all have a specific job:

 

  • IgG represents 80-85% of total immunoglobulins in serum and colostrum and is the most important antibody in the secondary response. Transfer of IgG only takes place via colostrum absorbed over the gastrointestinal tract during the first 24 hours postpartum.
  • IgM is the first antibody produced after an immune response and is essential for the primary response under exposure to challenge.
  • IgA is the pig's most important immunoglobulin in regard to mucosa immunity and lactation. It does this by preventing the attachment of antigens in gut walls, and neutralizing the activity of some viruses, both inside and outside epithelium cells.

 

 

Colostrum effect on mortality and lifetime performance

Research by Declerck et. al., 2016 investigated the effect of piglet birth weight and colostrum intake on lifetime growth performance. This work showed that irrespective of birthweight, if a piglet consumes no colostrum, it has <50% chance of surviving until weaning. Conversely, regardless of birthweight, if piglets receive 350g colostrum their survivability is dramatically increased with >90% chance of being weaned.

Piglets with low birthweights, <1kg, who received low levels of colostrum had 30% chance of surviving to weaning. However, if these low birth weight piglets received 350g of colostrum their chances of survival increased to 95%. Piglets that received this magic 350g of colostrum performed better throughout their lifetime than those that didn't - interestingly, the positive association between colostrum intake and finishing weight was most pronounced in low birth weight piglets.

This comprehensive research shows that colostrum intake has a greater effect on weaning weight than birth weight. Therefore, anything that can enhance colostrum quality can have a significant impact on pig performance.

Following five years of research and development, Devenish have launched ColfaPig, a specific mix of encapsulated short and medium chain fatty acids that has shown numerous benefits on colostrum quality and subsequent performance, delivering:

 

  • Increased weaning weight by 500g,
  • Increased levels of IgG, IgA and IgM
  • Improved lifetime performance
  • Increased viability, with an extra 0.5 piglets weaned per sow

 


Devenish's research also showed that fat levels in the colostrum were increased by 30% in sows fed ColfaPig. Proteomics, which tracks changes in proteins showed this was as a result of the downregulation of the proteins that break milk fat globule membranes. These proteins are responsible for breaking down the cell membrane thus reducing the amount of fat in the milk. By reducing the level of these proteins there is more fat in the colostrum, that can be used for energy and increased weight gain by the piglets.

ColfaPig should be the first step in a pigs feeding regime. The increased weaning weight will be coupled with improved performance from our high quality range of piglet feeds. More piglets weaned, heavier pigs weaned and improved lifetime performance will mean one thing: Improved producer profitability.

Colostrum is crucial to a pig's lifetime performance and we are working our sows harder than ever- lets give them the right nutrition to Power Our Piglets.


Back to list