Feed efficiency in piglets

Feed efficiency is always a crucial issue in animal production. Like most animals, piglets need to grow quickly and efficiently. Therefore, high-energy diets containing a high proportion of fats are commonly used. These fats can only add value if they are digested. However, fat digestibility is limited in weaned piglets, which restricts efficient growth.

At weaning, young piglets encounter digestive difficulties. While their digestive tract is not yet fully developed, they are switched from easily digestible mother’s milk to solid feed with a high fat content. Young piglets do not produce enough bile acids and have low enzymatic activity, resulting in suboptimal conditions for proper fat emulsification and digestion. These factors combine to put the animals’ gut health and performance under stress. To address the above challenges, the industry needs a comprehensive solution that leads to optimal feed digestion, faster piglet growth, improved piglet health and lower feed costs.

Feed additives based on hydrolysed lecithins, better known as lysolecithins, are rapidly gaining popularity in this content.

Lysolecithins have the ability to emulsify fats into smaller fat droplets, resulting in an increased surface area that allows easier enzymatic hydrolysis of fats by pancreatic lipase. In addition, lysolecithins have high levels of lysophosphatidylcholine (LPC) and lysophosphatidylethanolamine (LPE). Both LPC and LPE have the ability to interact with the phospholipid bilayer of epithelial cell membranes, increasing their fluidity and permeability and facilitating nutrient uptake.

Proof in the field

In a recent trial on a practical farm with research facilities in Germany, the effect of FRA LeciMax on the performance of weaned piglets during 35 days after weaning was tested. Adding 500 grams of FRA LeciMax to a normal feed resulted in a 1.19 kg higher final weight after 35 days. As a rule of thumb, a one kilogram increase in body weight at the beginning of the fattening phase shortens the fattening period by one week, resulting in lower feeding costs.

In addition, the significantly lower feed input led to lower feed costs per kilogram of piglet gain, and lower mortality resulted in more piglets being sold for fattening. An economic calculation therefore showed a return of investment (ROI) of 63. These results show that feed is better utilised when lysolecithins are used. This is explained by improved fat emulsification, followed by better enzymatic hydrolysis and absorption of fat as well as other nutrients.

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