Main research question
Why do organic piglets, despite their higher weaning age, eat less around weaning than conventional piglets? And how can we formulate and produce organic weaning feed that the piglets like better, taking their nutrient needs into account and staying within a certain price range? These are the questions examined by ILVO, Pig Information Center, organic pig farmers, Ghent University, CCBT, Bioforum and Molens Dedobbeleer feed mill within the BioBIG project.
Within the operational group, which was created by a concrete question from a pig farmer to the Pig Information Center, the partners focused on exchanging knowledge and experiences on optimizing the feed strategy, weaning feed composition and weaning management. The relevant (practical) knowledge and results from international (organic) research on the feeding strategy were bundled for this purpose. Organic pig farmers were surveyed to gain insight into the success factors and bottlenecks regarding weaning management in organic production. A few alternative feeds were tested in practical trials at organic pig farmers and a feeding trial at ILVO.
During the project it soon became clear that besides feed composition, other aspects were also important for the a smooth weaning process, such as housing, hygiene, health status and management. Possible practical solutions to improve weaning feed composition and management were shared.
The operational group led to an intensified knowledge exchange and cooperation between the organic pig farmers, the feed manufacturer, the researchers, sector organization and policy. The pig farmers were the driving force and determined which alternative feeds were tested in their farms and at ILVO. The experiences gained will also be included in an ongoing CCBT project Optispeen. The challenges were also taken up by the sector organization and policymakers.With a final booklet (available in July 2021) we offer interested parties the necessary tools for a smoother weaning process for organic piglets. Since the available literature on optimizing weaning feed composition and nutrient requirements in organic production is limited, experiences from conventional production are also included. These improvement paths can also be a source of inspiration for non-organic pig farmers.
Vlaamse Overheid Departement L&V