Development of Diets for Low Birth-Weight Piglets to Improve Post-Weaning Growth Performance and Optimize Net Returns to the Producer
A cost to the commercial pork production is variability in growth. Birth weights have a large variance from 0.40 kg to 2.5 kg. The smaller pigs rarely demonstrate compensatory growth and have a lagging rate of gain throughout all growth stages, often needing an additional 10 days to reach market weight. Light weaning pigs may respond better to a high-quality weaning diet and may help reduce overall variability. Growth performance for the first week after weaning improved when fed a complex diet for 1-4 days. Lighter pigs lost less weight at weaning and had a greater response to the complex diet than the heavier pigs did. Phase 1 diet could be used more cost-effectively and efficiently if it was targeted to the lighter pigs at weaning. In this non-competitive environment, light-weight pigs were able to perform equal to the heavier litter mates, indicating that environmental factors such as feeder access need to be examined to improve the performance.