Special Edition: Early Animal Nutrition

Palatability of piglet diets on Trouw Nutrition's radar

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

© istock
© istock

Related tags Nutrition Zinc

Nutreco's Trouw Nutrition has been running validation trials on the hydroxy based trace minerals – branded as Selko IntelliBond - it acquired when it bought US business, Micronutrients, at the beginning of 2016.

The trace mineral portfolio had staggering success in the US, with some 70% market share of the US piglet sector, for example, but had not been able to gain that level of market penetration elsewhere, said Meeka Capozzalo, senior technical manager, trace minerals at Trouw Nutrition.

The post-weaning growth check is a multifactorial issue that continues to constrain piglet production globally. This period is characterized by a precipitous decline in voluntary feed intake leading to weight loss and susceptibility to pathogens. The abrupt change from a highly palatable milk based diet to a dry, less palatable grain based diet is one of the many changes a young pig must endure in this stressful time, explained Trouw Nutrition.

Now, leveraging Nutreco’s capabilities and global organization, Trouw Nutrition wants to develop the Selko IntelliBond business further outside the US. "VIV Asia in Bangkok in March saw us relaunch the brand on the Asian market,”​ she told us.

The company claims the hydroxy trace minerals have optimum covalent bond strength, which protects them in feed and the upper digestive tract, allowing for less reactivity and targeted availability.

Capozzalo said Trouw Nutrition recently ran a pen trial in its swine research center in Boxmeer in the Netherlands, which she said showed the Selko IntelliBond trace minerals could improve palatability of piglet diets over sulphate mineral sources.

The trial, she said, indicated the piglets preferred diets comprising Selko IntelliBond C at an inclusion rate of 160 ppm and Selko IntelliBond Z at the level of 110 ppm compared to diets containing the equivalent level of copper and zinc sulphate in the absence of high levels of zinc oxide (ZnO). Those pigs ate significantly more Selko IntelliBond diet in the first two weeks after weaning, the most critical time for piglets, she said.

“The results indicated the hydroxy trace minerals, which are sensory neutral, i.e. no strong taste or smell, will increase the probability of optimal feed intake."

Soluble compounds that taste salty, bitter, sour or sweet can be detected by the pigs and affect how they might perceive a diet’s taste, she said. Hydroxy trace elements are insoluble at a pH above 4.0, which can make a big difference in terms of palatability, with inorganic sources of minerals such as copper sulphate highly soluble, even at neutral pH 7.0, she explained.

Removing sulphates from the diet, and improving palatability, may reduce the need for sensory additives, such as flavors and scents, and thus the cost of diets, added the Dutch animal nutrition company.


Housing: Six piglets per pen, each pen had two feeders.

One feeder contained feed A

                                    Basal diet + inorganic CuSO4 (160 ppm) and ZnSO4 (110 ppm)

One feeder contained feed B

                                    Basal diet + Selko IntelliBond C (160 ppm) and Selko IntelliBond Z (110 ppm)

-Each pen swapped feeders 2x weekly

-Duration of the trial: 34 days

Further evidence of feed intake promotion

The company said an older trial, conducted with piglets in France, evaluated how weaner pigs performed when fed diets supplemented with 155 ppm copper from either Selko IntelliBond C or copper sulphate. It said the results suggested Selko IntelliBond C was more effective at promoting feed intake and weight gain in weaner piglets than copper sulphate.

When leaving the weaner, pigs fed diets supplemented with Selko IntelliBond C were 882g heavier on average than pigs fed copper sulphate, it said.

“There was no difference in the feed intake in the first 28 days after weaning. However, from day 28 to 42, pigs fed SelkoIntelliBond C ate more than pigs fed the copper sulphate treatment.”

Pigs fed Selko IntelliBond C tended to have a higher feed intake over the entire length of the trial, said Trouw Nutrition.

“There was no difference observed in the daily gain for the first 28 days after weaning either. However, pigs grew more when fed Selko IntelliBond C during the subsequent 14 days.

“Average daily gain was significantly greater over the entire period. Feed efficiency was not affected by copper source. The present study indicates that improvement of weaner pig production is driven by an improved feed intake, as opposed to increased feed efficiency.”

Case for high inclusion level of copper in weaner pigs

Another investigation of one of the hydroxy trace minerals in Germany, run in 2013, compared copper sources in weaners.

A total of 192 mixed sex piglets were assigned to 48 pens for a total of eight replicate pens per treatment. Pigs were fed one of six experimental diets. These were formulated with 15, 100, or 150 ppm copper from 1 of the two copper sources, reported the company.

The study showed piglets fed diets with 150 ppm copper from Selko IntelliBond C were numerically 1.2 kg heavier and had statistically 8 points for feed conversion, said Trouw Nutrition. “Additionally, feedingSelko IntelliBond C instead of copper sulphate improved feed conversion both from 21 to 55 days after weaning and over the entire length of the trial. Fecal scores were unaffected by copper source or copper inclusion level.”

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