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Optimum protein concept for piglets

Creep feed specialist Tuck Box Ltd have introduced two new creep diets – Optimiser and Maximiser – to cover piglet growth during the critical post-weaning stage. The diets mark a new approach to creep feeding – what the company terms “The optimum protein concept”.

“It is easy to overload protein during the early stage in a pigs life and this can result in scouring and poor growth,” commented nutritional director David Wilby. However, he points out that simply reducing protein is not the answer since pigs will still not achieve their genetic potential for fast growth.

A key part of the optimum protein concept is achieving the correct balance between essential amino acids lysine, methionine, threonine and tryptophan. The diets have been specially formulated to achieve this.

“We believe the optimum protein concept for baby pigs is the way forward to maximise feed intake and growth, to help minimise stress, reduce the amount of slurry production and the amount of nitrogen in the slurry resulting in less waste and more profit,” said David Wilby.

What is optimum protein?
Increasing the availability of essential amino acids allows crude protein levels in diets to be reduced while maintaining an adequate supply of essential amino acids – the so-called ‘building blocks of protein”. The reduction of crude protein reduces nitrogen excretion, water consumption and urine excretion as well as benefiting the health of the pig by reducing the incidence of diarrhoea and the formation of toxic compounds such as ammonia.

How is optimum protein achieved?
There is a daily amino acid requirement. Tuck Box is including supplementary forms of the four limiting amino acids, namely lysine, methionine, threonine, and tryptophan to achieve the correct levels and ratios in the final diet.
Lysine and methionine are well-known essential amino acids, which have to be supplied through the feed as synthesis cannot be undertaken by the pig. Threonine, although less well known, is also an essential amino acid. Besides its requirement for protein synthesis it plays a specific role in the digestive function and in the immune function via its contribution to immunoglobin synthesis.

Tryptophan is one of the newer supplementary amino acids, which like lysine, methionine and threonine has to be supplied through the feed as it cannot be synthesised by the pig. Growing pigs need tryptophan for protein deposition and also for various metabolic functions.

Unlike lysine, which is mostly used for protein deposition (weight gain), tryptophan is involved in various metabolic pathways including appetite regulation. A tryptophan:lysine ratio is usually around 18 per cent for piglet growth but increased growth is easily obtained by increasing this ratio to over 22 per cent.
In addition to enhancing body protein deposition, tryptophan is likely to stimulate appetite, which in turn increases feed intake and growth rate.

Optimum protein diets
The increased knowledge of essential amino acid requirements linked to lower nitrogen levels has enabled Tuck Box to launch their two new diets, which are supplied as 2mm pellets. Optimiser is designed to be fed from 3-9 kg liveweight while Maximiser is fed from 7– 15 kg liveweight.

Although diets formulated to essential amino acid requirements, are lower in crude protein, they have higher levels of digestible amino acids in a supplementary form and these are highly available to the pig.
This results in less surplus protein to be metabolised and excreted, so less energy is wasted.

The inclusion of organic acids, Anticol and organic selenium, in conjunction with the optimum protein concept helps to reduce digestive stress, enhances the immune system and has a beneficial effect on normal intestinal functions.

These diets contain no antibiotic growth promoters, but David Wilby says producers can expect the following benefits:

  • Higher feed intakes – higher growth rates
  • Less stress
  • fewer digestive upsets
  • Cleaner pigs
  • Reduced slurry production
  • Lowers ammonia emissions
  • Help in complying with NVZ restrictions
  • More profit