Piglets Prefer Sweets

How long pigs are to be on the farm before the meat factory depends on how quickly the livestock reaches the market weight. The earlier animals eat the necessary amount of feed, the less time will be spent on growing them up. Pigs should eat 3 kg of feed in order to increase the body weight by 1 kg. That is why the manufacturers are worried about the problem of feed intake and the taste qualities of feed components.

Everybody knows in what way food influences emotions and mood of people: they do not give up on delicacies even being not hungry. Pigs have the same feelings. Therefore, feed for them, especially for young piglets, should be very tasty.

Quite often it is impossible to increase the level of consumption of pre-starter and starter feed in farms, considering that the specialists have learned to determine the energy saturation of feed, as well as the ratio of amino acids, minerals and other nutrients. This is due to the fact that the feed intake depends on the size of the digestive system of pigs and the rate of mass passage through the gastrointestinal tract. Why is it important to increase the feed intake during the pre-weaning period and the first days after weaning? Because finally, as a rule, the individuals, eating more starter feeds, grow faster and reach a good body weight. Early training of pigs to eat solid food contributes to the formation of the gastrointestinal tract, increases its size and forms a sufficient number of digestive enzymes. This method makes it possible to reduce stress after weaning, since this period is characterized with the development of negative energy balance in the body and the loss of body weight. Observations show that 50% of piglets begin to eat feeds in 24 hours after weaning, when 10% after 48 hours. Energy balance can be restored only on the 8-14th day.

It is known that various feed or technological factors can negatively influence the feed intake not only by young, but also by adult pigs. Increasing interest in feeds and the improvement of its taste and aroma contribute to more successful fight against stress during the key periods of animal life, and the use of additives mitigates (covers) the deficiencies in feeding and technological mistakes.

The staff often underestimates the role of aromas during the preparation of feed. Although the ability to recognize various smells is much more developed among pigs rather than humans. Pigs have very sharp sense of smell – much better than the sensitivity of taste receptors of the tongue. The pulses, being sent to the brain from the organs of smell, are transmitted faster in comparison with pain signals, and often determine the line of behavior.

The sense of pleasure, desire or fear is controlled by the central nervous system, which is responsible for the strongest emotions. Thanks to it, pigs feel hungry and can have the memory. For example, the information about smells is stored much longer than the information about sounds and images. It means that the aromas, which accompany different periods of growing and staying in comfortable conditions, are practically not forgotten. Therefore, the smell usually acts as the buffer between the environment and the nervous system: an animal spontaneously evaluates the situation in a particular room and consumes the brand new feed as regular. The feeds, which have a familiar smell for pigs, allow to minimize stress in weaning, moving or regrouping the livestock.

It is known that piglets, as well as young representatives of all kinds of animals, prefer sweet feeds, not bitter. The tongue of pigs has two types of receptors for the recognition of sweet taste and two hundred kinds of analyzers for the determination of bitter and salty tastes. The piglets, eating milk and being with a breeding sow, experience the sense of security. Milk, thanks to lactose contained in it, has the sweet taste. That is why, animals, even adults, consider such product as the source of life, when all the feeds with mycotoxins, characterized mainly by the bitter taste, are associated by them with danger.

The scientists point all sweet products together with drugs, because they are addictive. It was previously believed that the taste analyzers were concentrated only on the tongue. But now new studies show that such receptors can be found in the lungs, pancreas and other organs.

Some experts suggest that it is difficult to evaluate the properties of food by using the tongue. This is because the fact that food has not only taste, but also aroma. Odorous substances are trapped by the analyzers located in the back of the nasal cavity. Pigs use the organs of touch (tongue) and smell (nose) to determine the taste of feed. Impulses are then transmitted to different areas of the brain, resulting in the formation of certain stereotypes, which are interrelated with the memory and emotions, and are responsible for behavioral reactions of animals.

How does this knowledge help to solve the problems that arise in practice? The use of flavors increases the interest in feeds among young animals, as well as adults, at each stage of growing. The feed market offers the products, which predominantly have with the smell of vanilla and red fruits. Nowadays, additives with the smell of milk are popular.

The main role during the feeding of pigs is assigned not so much to the smell itself, as to its stability. A large number of aromatic substances are widely used in the confectionery industry, but they are unsuitable for the production of feeds by granulation and condensation, since they cannot be combined well with minerals, vitamins, acids and other ingredients.

Initially, all the aromas, especially in their pure form, are characterized by pleasant smell. But how is it possible to choose one them, which is well retained in feeds (premixes) and is not quickly evaporated? The degree of stability of flavors can be evaluated by releasing trial batches of products. More objective information is provided by the laboratory analyses performed by gas chromatography.

Two samples of feed flavors were heated in the chromatograph and the release time of aromatic substances was recorded. They were released from one of the products almost immediately, from the other product they were evaporated evenly and twice as long. It means that, when granulating feeds, the first sample looses the most of its potential, and the second retains its properties.

INNOVAD NV/SA, Belgian company, has a long experience in the production of persistent flavors, having different profiles, under the trademark CIBUS, which are intended for the enrichment of granulated feeds and premixes. The product has stable and lasting effect.

The use of feed sweeteners helps to improve the taste of feed and to increase its intake. The market is full of quite popular commercial products based on saccharin. The feeds with this substance are rather sweet, but have a pronounced bitter (metallic) aftertaste.

The following specific goal can be reached by using sweeteners in the pig breeding: to provide the feeds with an intense sweetness and to cover the bitterness of both the product and the components – minerals, medicines, zinc oxide, etc. MELLIS®, feed sweetener, is a unique composition of synthetic and organic ingredients (dextrose, saccharin, neohesperidin, thaumatin glutamate, stevia, aromatic substances), which have a synergistic effect. The product helps to increase the feed intake of young animals, and also interrupts the bitter or unpleasant aftertaste caused by the use of pharmaceuticals in feeds. The feed intake can be improved and the body weight of piglets may be daily increased, when using CIBUS® together with MELLIS®.

The experiment, during which 240 weaning genotypes (large white × landrace) × pietrain from the 28-42th day (duration of the experiment – 14 days) ate a standard granulated starter feed, was performed in France. The pigs of the experimental group were additionally injected with MELLIS® and CIBUS® in the dosage of 0.2 kg per 1 tonne. The results of the experiment are shown in the table.

Thus, the feed intake is increased and the delivery time for pigs is reduced thanks to the common use of aromatic substances and taste enhancers.

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