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Nutritional management in the nursery

Understand the role nutrition can play in gut health and animal performance is essential to enjoying good performance as we move away from antibiotic growth promoters and heavy metals.

Monday 5 September 2016 (2 years 3 months 11 days ago)

The complexity of your nursery nutrition program will depend on a range of management factors including; weaning age, weaning weight and variation, parity structure, the quality of the nursery facilities, labour quality and availability, and the health status of your farm.

For those that have a younger weaning age (e.g. 21 days or 6.5 kg) it is ideal to adopt a four stage nutritional management program in the nursery. For those that are in the preferred position of having an older weaning age (e.g. 28 days or 8.0 kg) a three phase program is generally adequate to achieve the desired nursery exit target of 30 kg at 70 days of age. The nursery program should be based around weight targets rather than age. Changing diets by weight rather than age will allow pigs to remain as close to the growth curves as possible. Managing the smallest 25% of pigs by weight rather than age will also allow the variation within a commercial batch of pigs to be more contained than if they were managed by age.

The digestive and immunological maturity of the piglet is achieved somewhere between 7 and 10 weeks of age. These constraints need to be considered when designing the nursery diets. The responsibility of the nutritionist is not only to meet the nutritional needs of the piglet for lean efficient growth but to also support the efficient development of the piglets digestive and immune systems.

Nutritional management in the nursery 1

Digestive maturity is largely substrate driven so nutritional strategies to promote feed intake (pre and post weaning) will also promote digestive development. Immune development can be improved by nutritional management as well. The immune system and the gut microflora are known to co-evolve in the pig. Events which disrupt either will delay the development of both.

Nutritional tips

To promote feed intake To promote immune development
  • Use high quality raw materials at modest inclusion rates.
  • Use raw materials which have an umami flavour profile (e.g. fish products, animal proteins, yeast products, glutamate/glutamine sources).
  • Provide feed in a micro pellet or a crumble.
  • Ensure feed is fresh and provided ad libitum.
  • Ensure pigs have access to good quality drinking water and consider using in water acidifiers to promote feed intake.
  • Utilise feed enzymes appropriately to support the digestive limitations of the pig.
  • Consider using lower protein diets in the nursery as a strategy to prevent gut disturbances, but be mindful of the need to formulate diets to all 10 essential amino acids.
  • Considered conditionally essential amino acids like glutamine/glutamate.
  • Ensure that the balance of branch chain amino acids is considered. Excess leucine relative to isoleucine or a deficiency in valine can suppress feed intake.
  • Include adequate levels of antioxidants in your premix (Vit E, Vit C and organic selenium).
  • Include a source of dietary nucleotides to support to immune develop up to 7 weeks of age.
  • Include raw materials which enhance vaccine response in pigs (e.g. spray dried plasma products, colostrums products, hyper-immunised egg proteins, mannan fractions, etc).
  • Provide probiotics and/or prebiotics to promote favourable gut microflora and/or limit the risk of protein fermentation.
  • Utilise raw materials which maintain gut integrity and minimise inflammation, leaky gut etc (e.g. plasma proteins, potentiated zinc oxide).
  • Consider the sequence and frequency of stressful events in the nursery (e.g. weaning, vaccinations, diet changes, mixing, movements).
  • Ensure that the amino acids involved in supporting an immune response like methionine, cysteine, tryptophan and threonine are not marginal. Consider a safety margin of up to 20%.
  • Use a low level of fermentable (insoluble) fibre to provide insurance against microbial dysbiosis and promote hind gut health (e.g. inulin, sugar beet pulp, second generation lignocellulose).

It is also important to consider the nutritional requirements of the gastro-intestinal tract. During the nursery phase the maintenance and growth of the digestive tract is key to achieving growth targets, maintaining gut health and achieving optimal feed conversion efficiencies. Particular nutrients like threonine, methionine, cysteine, tryptophan, glutamine, glutamate, vitamin E have been shown to improve the performance and efficiency of pigs when used at levels higher than those recommended for lean growth especially in the initial post-weaning period or during challenge situations (i.e. health or sanitation). Glutamine/glutamate should be viewed as conditionally essential nutrients in the acute post weaning period. Dietary shortfalls in glutamine/glutamate can be made up in the diet by using feed additives like L-glutamine or glutamate, mono sodium glutamate and commercial products.

Fine tuning of nursery diets should also ensure that the buffering capacity and electrolyte balance (Na+K-Cl) are optimal as both of these factors influence the ability of the pig to utilise protein efficiently. Buffering capacity targets will depend on the system you choose (ABC 3 or ABC 4). However low buffering capacity can be achieved by avoiding the use of products like limestone, dicalcium phosphates, zinc oxide (at 3000ppm) and selecting the appropriate acidifier/s for the weight of the pigs. Electrolyte balance can easily adjusted using different salts (e.g. sodium chloride, sodium bicarbonate).

Success in the weaner nursery is dependent on a broad range of factors of which nutrition is only one. However, understand the role nutrition can play in gut health and animal performance is essential to enjoying good performance as we move away from antibiotic growth promoters and heavy metals.


Effect of fermentable and inert fibre in weaning piglets17-Oct-2016 2 years 1 months 29 days ago
Implementation of a peripartum feed04-Aug-2016 2 years 4 months 12 days ago

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09-Oct-2016ho.nguyenmanh.2ho.nguyenmanh.2it very helpfull
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