Weaning, in ruminants and pigs, is a critical period in the life of young animals as it involves the transition from a milk-based diet to a solid feed diet. Similarly, in poultry, feeding in the first weeks is the key for hatched chicks to reach advanced life stages in a healthy way. According to experts, this transition process affects not only nutritional intake, but also digestive physiology, intestinal microbiota, immune system and future performance of the animals. For this reason, it can be considered that proper nutrition and a well-managed weaning process in the early stages, even from the womb, will be one of the most important steps taken for an efficient business.
Of course, there is no single recipe for this critical process. Experts state that the nutritional needs of young animals may vary depending on many factors such as the animal’s species, age, physical and environmental condition.
For example, young ruminants need to improve their rumen function and microbial populations during weaning. This requires adequate intake of fermentable fibre, protein and minerals, as well as access to clean water. It is known that colostrum intake immediately after birth is very important to provide passive immunity and prevent infections.
Young piglets, on the other hand, face many challenges during weaning, such as separation from the sow, confusion with unfamiliar litters, exposure to pathogens, and nutritional changes. These challenges compromise intestinal integrity, immune function, and feed intake, which can lead to post-weaning diarrhea, growth failure, and death. Therefore, it is recommended to feed piglets a highly digestible ration rich in protein, energy and minerals during the weaning period.
Knowing the risks that young animals face, determining their needs by taking these risks into consideration, and providing feeding resources appropriate to these needs can be the summary of how to manage this process properly. Hoping that more information and expert opinion will contribute to this process, in this November issue we include some of the latest research and practical advice on proper nutrition and weaning of young animals.
We hope that you will find this issue informative and useful, and that it will help you to improve the weaning process of your young animals on your farms and businesses.
Although we do not have the opportunity to express it very often, we welcome your feedback and suggestions and look forward to hearing from you.
We wish you a pleasant reading…
See you in the next issue!