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 feed mill Molens Dedobbeleer within the BioBIG project. Several organic pig farmers and feed manufacturers indicate that the organic weaning foods appear to be less tasty and that they contain a higher proportion of protein than the weaning foods in conventional pig farming. As a result, piglets eat too little of it around weaning and are more susceptible to infections.
First of all, we make an inventory of improvement paths to optimize the composition and palatability of organic weaner feed. The relevant (practical) knowledge and results from international (bio)research on feed strategy are combined. The aim is to formulate and produce organic weaner feed with an increased palatability, taking into account the nutrient needs of the piglets and within a certain price range. We will test the feeds produced at the participating pig farms. In addition to the optimization of weaner feed composition and strategy, the critical points and success factors regarding weaner management on organic farms will be mapped out by means of a survey and farm visit to the participating pig farms.
By implementing concrete improvement paths in weaner feed composition and by addressing critical factors in weaner management, organic pig farmers are able to wean their piglets more efficiently (including an increase in health status and technical performance, and a lower feed cost compared to the number of kg of piglets produced).