Flavours Optimize Feed Intake in Piglets

Incorporating well-formulated flavours and sweeteners into animal feed enhances palatability and ensures acceptance of the diet. This is especially useful during challenging periods, such as weaning, lactation, or feed transitions when appetite and feed intake are compromised. Moreover, adding flavours and sweeteners stimulates salivary gland activity and appetite, ultimately leading to higher feed intake for optimal growth. This improved sensory experience contributes to a state of enhanced relaxation, reduced feed-related stress and negative feeding associations.

By ensuring a constant taste profile, this approach not only enhances animal performance but also contributes to overall animal welfare.

What are the greatest challenges faced by piglets during the weaning process?

During weaning, piglets are challenged by several stressors. They are separated from their mothers and littermates and transferred into new groups with other piglets and unfamiliar, cooler facilities. Exposure to pathogens further strains their immune systems, intensifying the stress. Moreover, transitioning from breast milk to solid feed represents a dramatic shift in nutrition.

Maintaining feed intake during this critical period is crucial for an optimal transition and has a significant impact on the overall growth of animals throughout the subsequent fattening phase. Incorporating milky, vanilla, and creamy flavours combined with a sweetener into the starter feed of piglets triggers the memory effect, evoking positive associations like the comforting taste of mother's milk, thus ensuring stable feed consumption.

This approach offers a promising solution to introduce young piglets to unfamiliar solid feed avoiding feed intake reduction.   

How do Phytobiotics’ flavours help to solve the challenge?

Phytobiotics offers a diverse and cutting-edge portfolio of flavours and sweeteners covering a wide range of intensities and heat stability, tailored to the varying needs of feed processing and applications in animal feed.

Starting from animal acceptance research in the 1970s, Phytobiotics have fine-tuned their products based on market needs and extensive feeding trials over decades. The range spans from vanilla, citric, and tropical to herbal flavour notes, and stevia- and saccharine-based sweetener blends, offering unique solutions to meet specific feed and nutritional requirements.

Use of a Phytobiotics’ vanilla flavour in piglet feeding

A field study conducted in Germany demonstrated the positive effect of combining one of Phytobiotics’ vanilla flavour with a sweetener in piglets.

A total of 256 piglets, 3 weeks of age, were purchased from a commercial pig farm and housed in a research facility at Haus Düsse in Bad Sassendorf, Germany. The piglets, with an average body weight of 7.5 kg, were randomly divided into 4 groups, with 8 piglets per pen. They were then assigned to either a control or one of 3 treatment diets, each containing pellets with varying concentrations of a heat-stable vanilla flavour.  

Treatment 1 included 150 g of Bigarol® Cremarom PE per ton of feed in the control diet. Treatment 2 had 300 g of Bigarol® Cremarom PE per ton of feed added to the control diet. Treatment 3 was offered to piglets as a control diet plus 150 g Bigarol® Cremarom PE per ton of feed combined with 133 g sweetener per ton of feed. Performance data, including body weight, feed intake, and weight gain of piglets, were monitored and recorded weekly over a 5-week trial period.

Promising Results

In all three treatment groups, there was a significant increase in both the average daily feed intake and the average daily gain of piglets compared to those fed the control diet. Despite the notable increase in feed intake observed with an application rate of 150 g of Bigarol® Cremarom PE per ton of feed, the addition of a sweetener led to a remarkable 47 % boost compared to the control group, resulting in even greater weight gain among piglets.

These findings strongly indicate that combining a vanilla flavour, such as Bigarol® Cremarom PE, with a sweetener into the diet contributes to enhanced feed acceptance, thereby facilitating a seamless transition from sow´s milk to solid feed.

Adding Bigarol® Cremarom PE to the diet led to a significantly higher average daily feed intake in weaned piglets
Adding Bigarol® Cremarom PE to the diet led to significantly increased average daily gains in weaned piglets

About the author

Dr. Anne Winkler
After obtaining a Diploma in Agricultural Science, Anne pursued a Master's degree in Agricultural Science and Environmental Protection at the University of Applied Sciences in Bingen. In 2018, she earned a PhD in Agricultural Science from Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg. With her strong scientific background, Dr. Anne Winkler now brings her expertise to her role as the Global Product Manager for Flavours & Sweeteners at Phytobiotics.

Get in touch with our experts in animal nutrition