Did you know that the digestive tract of weaned piglets grows 14 centimeters per day? ​

Piglets not only need feed to stimulate their growth, but also to further develop the supporting organs. The intestines of piglets grow from 4 meters in length at weaning to around 15 meters in 11 weeks time. Part of the ingested nutrients are therefore used to support this exceptional development. This was reported by Dr. Jessika van Leeuwen, Global Category Manager Swine at Hamlet Protein, during the knowledge session about weaned piglets. Piglets' intestines are sensitive and the period immediately after weaning is especially critical.

If diarrhea develops in the first week after weaning, according to Van Leeuwen, feed is the cause in half of the cases. If diarrhea develops three weeks after weaning, pathogens can be detected in 90 percent of the cases and feed is the cause in 10 percent of the cases.

Improved use of nutrients

Weaning is about getting the piglets to absorb the right nutrients with the highest possible protein and energy sources. Animals with a high health status will also use that feed almost 4 percent better than piglets that are less healthy.

She also advises that certain substances (ANF’s) in feeds for piglets up to 16 kg should be avoided as much as possible. Anti Nutritional Factors (ANFs) can directly cause inflammation and damage in the gut. The intestinal wall is damaged and the barrier between the intestine and the bloodstream falls away leaving a port of entry for pathogens and toxins to enter the body.
The immune system has then to work very hard to keep animals healthy and avoiding weaning diarrhea becomes even more difficult. In addition, ANFs make nutrients less easily digestible. An example is unprocessed soy bean meal. This has the best protein profile for young piglets, says Van Leeuwen, but it is high in ANFs and is therefore difficult for the piglets to digest.

Enzymatically treated soy bean meal

By largely breaking down ANFs via enzymatic processes, Hamlet Protein makes the soy bean meal protein product HP300. This is a suitable source of protein for processing in piglet feeds. According to Van Leeuwen, 75 percent of the piglets in Denmark are fed with their protein source and for a good reason. "Of course HP300 costs a little more than raw soy bean meal but it is worth the investment."

As piglets up to 16 kg that receive as few ANFs as possible, the intestines develop better and general gut health will improve. This benefits them throughout their lives, allowing them touse more energy and protein to growth performance. They produce more efficiently. With piglets up to 16 kg you simply make the difference and the use of those few kg of more expensive high-quality protein source always pays off.'

You can read the original interview in Dutch here


Providing the right nutrition in the first life stage determines the overall lifetime performance of the animal. Our soy-based specialty ingredients improve health, welfare and performance of young animals. That is how we deliver a strong return on investment to producers around the world.