IFFO Report (2014) - High Quality Fishmeal shown to be the best protein source for Weaned Piglets
Young piglets are extremely sensitive to the different sources of protein in their diets while their digestive system is still developing post-weaning. There can be a significant difference in the palatability and amino acid digestibility in piglets diets depending on the protein source and the processing undertaken. Anti-nutritional compounds are found in many vegetable proteins and attempts are being made to reduce these to improve piglet performance. Poor protein sources can cause greater stress to young piglets and result in poorer growth performance which can never be recovered.
In 2014, IFFO commissioned research at the China Agricultural University to compare the effect of a number of different dietary protein sources on the performance of young piglets. The trial was to compare the performance of high quality fishmeal made from very fresh raw material low in histamine and Total Volatile Nitrogens (Super Fishmeal), more average quality Fishmeal, Soybean meal, Linseed meal as well as fermented products from these two plant meals.
The trial of these 6 protein sources involved 6 replicates each with 8 piglets and lasted from the 26th day after birth to 53rd day. The results showed (see graph below) that fishmeal (added at only 5%) gave superior growth and lower feed conversion ratios than the vegetable protein sources, although the fermentation process did seem to improve the performance of the plant proteins. The research also showed that the super fishmeal gave a better performance than the average quality fishmeal, producing the heaviest and healthiest pigs on the lowest feed conversion ratio.