POST WEANING PERIOD IN PIGLETS.
Definition: it is the period of time from the moment of the weaning of piglets until the start of the fattening stage . life, the post-weaning period.
Depending on how early or age in days the weaning is induced, this phase will be longer or shorter . If we consider a classic weaning at 28 days old piglets, they will rest in post-weaning buildings for about 45 days (one month and a half ) with a body weight at weaning of 6 kilos to around 25 kilos b.w. in the end of the period.
Post weaning period is a very critical phase in the life of the piglet, by the fact to experience such a number of stressing situations which will add up jeopardizing the proper physiological functioning of animals and consequently the development of good productive parameters. These factors which induce stress to weaned pigs are listed below:
1. Changing liquid diet to solid food. Perhaps the most important of them all. The new solid diet is at least palatable and very different from breast milk , both in composition, texture , temperature and flavor overall . After weaning the animals a process of destruction of enterocytes takes place in the small intestine , which will regenerate in a week or two . During this period of time, the utilization of nutrients will be consequently poorer and we will notice an increased incidence of diarrhea . In addition , the digestive tract of piglets is used to digest lactose, milk protein and homogeneous fat during the period of lactation ; now is the moment to adapt to the digestion of starch and several kinds of protein and fat when the piglets are not enzymatically prepared yet.
Trying to give a solution at this point it is important to consider the inclusion of additives to piglets feed that met the following functions:
1.1 . Specific enzymes for proper digestion of carbohydrates , proteins and fats from pre-starter feed and / or starter.
1.2 . Intestinal conditioner composed by one or more pronutrients which , through its specific mechanism of action for modulation of gene expression at the level of enterocytes, favors first an optimal development of the digestive tract and particularly in the small intestine of the piglet , and then a high turnover rate of enterocytes, thus conferring the small intestine a greater capacity to absorb and digest nutrients , and also a proper peristalsis to the same goal. In addition, when the enterocytes are functional at the highest level, they will also be able to maintain the intestinal epithelium with minimum levels of pathogenic enterobacteria by themselves, fully compatible with the physiology of the animal.
1.3 . Flavour / flavor specific for swine to increase palatability in the piglet , very important in this period of change from breast milk to solid feed .
2. Early mother-child separation . Under natural conditions piglets should be weaned between 10 and 20 weeks of age, in a gradual way , not violently . This is why the sudden weaning at 3 or 4 weeks of age, subjected to intensive management conditions implies the appearance of a stressing situation impossible to avoid.
3 . Formation of groups . The mixture of animals of different litters implies the need to reestablish new hierarchic orders within groups .
4 . Physical changes . New environment, new pens , new temperature. All these changes also induce a phenomenon of stress in animals.
The combined effect of points 2 , 3 and 4 produces a situation of low feed intake , weight loss or low levels of growth,
And do not forget about all the direct negative effect that the appearance of stress has onto the immune system. Stress in farm animals is always directly related to a depression of the immune system. This situation makes the piglets magnificent candidates to suffer several pathologies most of them from intestinal kind.
As a possible solution to this immune suppression of piglets ( stress inducing factors can not be avoided since the intensive rearing rate is inevitable) administration of an additive with immune system enhancer is desirable in feed or drinking water, this allows animals to face the threat of pathogens with high levels of success. There are enhancers of immunity based on pronutrients activity which have proved in field trials to be very effective in this regard and with only positively influence to the development of proper immune piglets.
Regarding the control of the new environment , you should take into account the following considerations :
-pens environment temperature between 22 and 28 º C.
-correct density : 0.15 to 0.20 m2/animal .
– existence of different areas to rest, for water and food intake, as well as for defecation and urination.
– quality water supply and adequate temperature, avoiding excessively hot water in hot weather or cold in cold weather .
– proper cleaning with pressurized water + detergent and subsequent disinfection of post-weaning pens, favored by an ” all in-all out ” management system.
In summary we can say that , by implementing the above recommendations, both nutritional level ( administration of enzymes , flavorings and intestinal conditioners pronutrients ) and in terms of management , we will achieve a better adaptation of weaned piglets to this new and critical phase of their