Devenish Nutrition launched Nurturaid at EuroTier 2016 for use in creep feed to ensure that piglets receive enough nutrients in their early days.
We caught up with Mick O’Connell, senior pig nutritionist at that Northern Ireland headquartered company, to hear more.
“There are two components within the product – a core of critical nutrients around which we have modelled a matrix of essential fatty acids - and this is really important because for the young piglet the key thing that we need to do is to maintain the integrity of the gut structures.
“So, from that point of view, what we are doing with the core of this product is giving preferential energy sources that feed the gut structures. And then we are also using essential fatty acids that have proven ability to support the health of the gut,” he explained.
He said the background work on this product started in 2000.
“Back then, we started doing a lot of research into fatty acid nutrition for monogastric animals, whether it was for pigs or chickens; we looked at the function of the various different ingredients within the animal and how they acted.
“That work evolved over the years and we applied the fatty acid nutrition knowledge gained to our nutritional programs and to our vitamin and mineral premixtures to give various effects, primarily looking at growth promotion and supporting gut structures and functions, and the enteric welfare of the pigs,” said O’Connell.
The team, he said, looked at combinations of the short, the medium and the long chain fatty acids: “A lot of our research effort has been focused on understanding the relationship between the different chain lengths and what works well together. We found that depending on how you apply the knowledge and the technology in terms of the mode of delivery, you can get extremely targeted effects, depending on what you are trying to achieve in the animal.”
Nurturaid has been in the pipeline for a while then, and the Devenish team, he said, has tested it at length.
“I guess in terms of controlled studies at commercial level, tens of thousands of animals would have been fed on it and would have been monitored,” continued the nutritionist.
Mode of delivery
But the ball form of the product is vital, he added.
“The biggest thing we find with small piglets is that it is very hard to get a sufficient quantity of key nutrients into the young animal so the mode of delivery had to be novel, it had to be very effective. So, I suppose with Nurturaid, the capacity to supply those key nutrients in a very concentrated form, enables us to keep the intestinal villi long and slender, with typical finger like projections, keeping the intestine really healthy.
“If we get the animal off to a good start, that obviously has a very critical effect at that given point of time, but there is actually also an exponential effect as the animal grows, as it matures and its capacity for food intake increases, then proportionally the impact of having a healthy intestine is much greater,” added O’Connell.
Commercial trials, he said, focused on growth performance, ADG and FCR. Devenish said trial results with the fatty acid product as part of the pre-weaned diet, showed weight gain of up to 260g per piglet from 4-28 days of age. At weaning, said the company, the pigs fed with Nurturaid had a hike in weaning weight of 0.3kg, which extended to a 0.5kg average advantage at 24 days post weaning.
“Ultimately, I guess for any farmer, as it’s fairly tight business, the ultimate measure will be whether it adds to their bottom line. Typically, what we have been seeing at the end of the nursing period is a 2.5:1 return on investment (ROI) but, if you actually carry right through to slaughter where you get the additional benefits of growth in the later stages of life, we see a 10:1 ROI,” said O’Connell.