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J Anim Sci. 2007 May;85(5):1295-301. Epub 2007 Jan 3.

Effects of intermittent suckling and creep feed intake on pig performance from birth to slaughter.

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Department of Farm Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Yalelaan 7, 3584 CL Utrecht, The Netherlands.


An experiment was conducted to determine if the improved creep feed intake observed during intermittent suckling (IS) is important for postweaning performance. Therefore, creep feed intake of litters was assessed, and within litters, eaters and noneaters were distinguished using chromic oxide as an indigestible marker. Batches of sows were suckled intermittently (IS, 7 batches; n = 31) or continuously (control, 7 batches; n = 31). In the IS group, litters were separated from the sow for a period of 12 h/d (0930 to 2130), beginning 11 d before weaning. Litters were weaned at 4 wk of age. Litters had free access to creep feed from 1 wk of age onward. Five days after weaning, the piglets were moved as a litter to weanling pens. At 8 wk of age, 2 barrows and 2 gilts were randomly chosen from each litter and moved to a finishing facility. Feed intake was improved by IS during the last 11 d of lactation (IS, 284 +/- 27 vs. control, 83 +/- 28 g/piglet; P < 0.001) and after weaning during the first (IS, 201 +/- 24 vs. control, 157 +/- 25 g x piglet(-1) x d(-1); P < 0.05) and second (IS, 667 +/- 33 vs. control, 570 +/- 35 g x piglet(-1) x d(-1); P < 0.05) wk. Thereafter, no differences were found to slaughter. Weaning BW was lower in IS litters (IS, 7.1 +/- 0.01 vs. control, 8.1 +/- 0.01 kg/piglet; P < 0.05), but 7 d after weaning BW was similar (IS, 8.5 +/- 0.2 vs. control, 8.7 +/- 0.2 kg/piglet; P = 0.18), and no differences were found to slaughter. The percentage of eaters within a litter was not increased by IS during lactation (IS, 23 +/- 4.5% vs. control, 19 +/- 4.1%; P = 0.15). Weaning BW did not differ between eaters and noneaters (eater, 7.7 +/- 0.1 vs. noneater, 7.5 +/- 0.08 kg/piglet; P = 0.63). From 1 until 4 wk after weaning, piglets that were eaters during lactation had heavier BW than noneaters (eater, 20.3 +/- 0.3 kg vs. noneater, 18.2 +/- 0.2 kg; P < 0.05). The influence of eating creep feed during lactation on BW and ADG and the influence of suckling treatment never showed an interaction. We conclude that IS increases ADFI during lactation on a litter level and improves ADG in the first week and ADFI in the first and second weeks after weaning. No long-term effects on ADFI or ADG were observed throughout the finishing period. In the current experiment, in which creep feed intake was low, the percentage of eaters within a litter was not increased, suggesting that creep feed intake of piglets that were already eating was stimulated by IS. Further, piglets that were eaters during lactation had heavier BW up to 4 wk after weaning.

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