Best start is best finish

 

The foundation of the LifeStart program is to create a healthy and productive environment for rearing piglets by positively influencing health, nutrition and management during the critical phases of life. A high quality, carefully selected diet during early life can increase feed intake and good health by inducing gut maturation, encouraging stable and diverse gut microbiota and promoting early maturation of the immune system.

Early quality nutrition leads to greater uniformity

The genetic potential of pigs continues to increase worldwide. At the same time, birth weights are decreasing and the number of small piglets being born is increasing. However, low birth weight piglets are not necessarily doomed to stay small as they are capable of some degree of compensatory growth. Weaning weight and post-weaning body weight development are more important than birth weight in determining later life growth performance. Our data have shown that a piglet's growth can accelerate depending on its early nutrition, resulting in greater uniformity.

Early gut maturation prepares for higher growth

During the first days of a piglet's life the stomach and intestines grow rapidly. To support this process, the sow's colostrum and early nutrition are essential in promoting the desired intestinal development. Moreover, pre-weaning supplements can induce accelerated maturation of the digestive system to prepare the piglet for greater and healthier growth.

 

A stable and diverse microbiota is essential for health and digestion

In the neonatal piglet, the microbiota induces several aspects of postnatal development, including the development of the gut immune system. Successional development of microbes occurs during the first weeks, when the colonization of the pig gut is greatly influenced by the immediate environment, including the diet. During this period and especially before weaning, management and nutrition needs to focus on reducing the disruption of the microbiological ecosystem of the young developing gut to achieve a diverse and stable microbiota affecting health and digestion in later life.

Early development of immune competence leads to more piglets weaned

The newborn piglet has very few immune relevant cells in the gut and its associated lymphoid tissues. Initially, they are protected only by maternal immune factors provided through the sow's milk. In the first phase of life piglets develop their own immune system, but this is a slow process. At the age of weaning the immune system is not yet mature and the impact of abrupt removal of maternal protection, coupled with stress and infection pressure, are resulting in an immunity gap. Adding functional nutrients that augment immune development in the young animal can provide the animal with a competent immune system in later life, while reducing the need for antibiotic interventions.