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An overview of swine feed advancements and how they solve problems for today’s producer and the larger global protein crisis by, Brooke Humphrey, Global Swine Technology Director, Cargill Animal Nutrition, Elk River, Minneapolis


or many years, farmers have used a wide range of breeding and nutrition strategies to raise the finest production animals possible. Experimentation with ration formulation, feed efficiency and selective breeding has improved animal health and production quality to unprecedented levels. But along with these strides have come unexpected challenges. While it is true that the global protein deficit is a concern for the production industry, modern farmers struggle on a day-today basis to balance three important dimensions of production: economic profitability, operational management and animal welfare. The feed industry needs to come up with solutions that address the daily needs of today’s producer while taking small steps toward meeting global demand. Recent pig nutrition research from Cargill Animal Nutrition (CAN) demonstrates how providing the right feed at the right time to sows and piglets can ensure producer profitability through animal livability. In turn, the cumulative effect of higher livability in the short-term will potentially have a positive impact on global supply.


In addition to industry strides in nutrition, producers are seeking an improved ability to feed the modern sow as genetic suppliers continue to aim for sows that produce larger litters. With the increase in litter size comes a decrease in piglet birth weight and an increase in nutrient demand. Piglets with a lower birth weight are also less vital and more susceptible to malnutrition and disease. Consequently, the sow must spread its nutrients across more piglets that need better-thanaverage nutrition to survive. More than ever, producers are feeling the pressure to improve livability due to lower birth weights and larger litters. To increase livability, nutrients must first be delivered to the sow. In 2012, Cargill studied around 1,300 sows across four farms in France. The research demonstrated that adding a mixture of antioxidants to a lactating sow’s feed made it possible to increase the quality of colostrum, a type of milk containing antibodies to protect newborns against disease. In essence, the sow’s increased immunity is transferred to its piglets, resulting in higher livability up to the weaning stage. But it’s not just feeding the sow that matters. After weaning, piglets have a critical window before reaching a bodyweight of 25 kg. During that time, optimal nutrition is important, especially for those with a low birth weight. On the neonatal side, that means using milk replacers (liquid products) and creep feed (dry products) as a nutritional supplement to sow milk. By introducing feed in addition to the sow’s milk, piglets not only learn feeding behaviors that help them increase intake after weaning they also receive the digestive support needed to improve feed intake and digestive challenges that are common post-weaning. CAN’s research led to the development of a nutritional supplement that, when combined with the critical window for feed intake, caused increased average weaning weight by 0.5 kg. This improvement is carried over the nursery and growfinishing periods, multiplying the weight advantage by 2.5 and 4 times, respectively. This supplement system has been installed in more than 350,000 sows across several thousand farms, helping reduce piglet mortality rates by an average of 3 percent in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. Correct delivery in the neonatal phase is especially important 50 | June 2016 - Milling and Grain

JUN 2016 - Milling and Grain magazine  
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