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6 characteristics of high-quality creep feeds for piglets

Important points to consider before buying your next batch of creep feed for your suckling piglets.

Piglet Eating (1)
Dusan Petkovic |

Before you buy your next batch of creep feed for your suckling piglets, you may want to consider the following points. These are based on my experiences, and they can be a good starting point for a long discussion with your nutritionist or nutrition supplier.

1. Who designed the feed?

In general, creep feeds – and all piglet feeds for that matter – are classified as sensitive or complex. This means a highly qualified nutritionist is required to design them for a specific purpose. In the case of a creep feed, it matters a lot whether weaning age is at 21 versus 28 days.

2. Cooked cereals or not?

Piglets still suckling the sow have an immature digestive system when it comes to starch digestion. Thus, offering them easily digested starch (cooked) will help them utilize most of it instead of excreting it. However, not all cereals offer the same degree of benefits when cooked.

3. Soybeans?

Depending on weaning age, and other factors, including the presence of immunoglobulins in the feed, the level of normal soybean meal can vary from 0% up to 20%. Of course, extruded full-fat soybeans remain a personal favorite, but they are not always available. Instead, other more refined soybean protein products are usually more commercially available.

4. Additives, yes or no?

Let's say it: Piglets suckling their mothers do not need much in terms of extra additives. There is limited research on the topic, and feeds I have designed with only the bare minimum always outperformed other top-heavy products.

5. Pellets or meal?

I like both, and so do piglets. However, marketing and local preferences also have a say on this matter, and they should be taken into account. If pelleted, then it should be appetizing in terms of smell, or otherwise pigs will not approach them easily. If meal, it needs to be tacky (fatty) and tasty (sweet, most likely).

6. Brown or white bag?

Sometimes we buy the bag design and forget piglets eat the contents. As we all know a fancy designer bag does not guarantee the feed will perform as advertised, and vice versa. However, a strong and plastic-lined bag is required to ensure feed remains fresh and well protected. I prefer kraft brown bags, but my customers like the white ones.

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