Colostrum and ColfaPig

21st December 2020

Colostrum and ColfaPig

Irrespective of birthweight, colostrum is essential for the survival of piglets. Colostrum provides the piglet with essential energy, antibodies and nutritional components.

A piglet is born in a highly vulnerable state as the placenta of the sow prevents the transfer of antibodies. In the first weeks of life, the piglet is totally dependent on the maternal antibodies it receives from colostrum and can take up to 2 weeks to build its own active immunity. Colostrum provides immunity in the form of immunoglobins.

A minimum of 200g of colostrum is required per piglet within the first 24 hours. If a piglet does not receive colostrum it is has a greater than 50% chance of death during the suckling period. However, if a piglet receives 350g it has less than 10% chance of death pre-weaning. (Declerc et al, 2016). The amount and timing of colostrum consumption are critical to health, development, survival and lifetime performance.

Research has consistently shown, that the higher the colostrum intake:

Colostrum intake is dependent on two factors:

  1. The ability of the piglet to access and extract the colostrum from the teats of the sow
  2. The ability of the sow to produce colostrum

Increasing litter size results in increased farrowing time, lower birth weights, reduced piglet vitality and reduced colostrum production. Because of the larger size, there is reduced ability to access the teats and less colostrum is available per piglet.

Due to the challenges within the system and the critical nature of colostrum consumption we invested in a 10-year research programme to investigate what we could do nutritionally to improve the quality and quantity of colostrum produced. The result of this process is ColfaPig. ColfaPig is a specific mix of encapsulated short and medium-chain fatty acids and has been shown to:

  • Increase the fat content of colostrum
  • Increase immunoglobulin concentration in colostrum
  • Increase piglet weaning weight
  • Decrease piglet mortality

The fat content of colostrum is one of the main factors that differentiate it from milk. The inclusion of ColfaPig in the feed of gestating and lactating sows has been shown to increase the level of fat in colostrum, and maintain it at that elevated level for a prolonged period of time. This improves the opportunity for all piglets to receive the high-fat levels required for the efficient delivery of energy that they are in desperate need of in the initial stage of life. This in turn drives an increase in piglet weaning weights. On average piglets weaned from sows receiving ColfaPig were 0.5kg heavier.

Correct or elevated levels of immunoglobulins (IgG, IgA and IgM) within the colostrum drives the piglet's early immunity, immunocompetence and long-term performance. Internal research has shown that the IgG levels of piglet blood serum at 2 and 4 weeks of age were higher in the progeny of sows fed ColfaPig, suggesting that the higher immunoglobulin levels in the colostrum had improved the immunological status of the piglets. This finding is supported by the lower (-4.6%) pre-weaning mortality that has been observed in the progeny of sows fed ColfaPig.

If you find yourself challenged with large litters, low birth weight piglets, less viable piglets, higher pre-weaning mortality or would like to increase your weaning weight then we are in the position to help. We have research to show that we can increase the capacity and composition of the colostrum and the ability to recommend specific management techniques to maximise colostrum intakes. Contact your Devenish Sales Representative for more information.

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