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Whey: A valuable feed ingredient that can be replaced

Good quality whey is a valuable ingredient that can define quality in piglet feeds, but, as any other ingredient, it is not indispensable.

Following my last blog on whey in Chinese piglet formulas, I received a number of emails regarding two aspects in regards to this valuable ingredient. Not surprisingly, most inquiries came from China where whey is imported at a premium.

How to discern the best quality whey?

I have written a short article in Pig International that largely answers this question, but I would like to add two more criteria:

  1. Taste – if it tastes good, then piglets will most readily like it
  2. Source – a constant source can guarantee a certain quality level as opposed to the open market where ingredients are sourced by a variable number of sources

How to replace lactose from whey?

I have also written another article on this topic in Feed International; briefly, whey is used for its lactose content, and early research has demonstrated piglets can cope with lactose alternatives found in molasses, sucrose, dextrose, fructose and maltodextrins. It is not an easy exercise to formulate a zero-lactose formula, but it is not impossible either. I recall an all-molasses formula I designed in the U.S. that was a great favorite among piglets in Illinois.

In my opinion, as a field nutritionist for 15 years now, good quality whey is a valuable ingredient that can define quality in piglet feeds. But, as any other ingredient, it is not indispensable. So, when good quality whey cannot be obtained at reasonable prices, I have always opted for good quality alternatives that are available locally.

Ioannis Mavromichalis can be reached at [email protected]. 

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