Individual daily consumption of supplementary solid food ('creep feed') was measured from Day 10 to weaning at Day 28 for 39 piglets in four litters, and its relationship to body weight and weight gain up to Day 42 was investigated. Individual consumption was measured by combining the weight of the feed removed from the dispensers (monitored electronically) and a video image of piglet activity at the feeder. Creep feed consumption varied greatly, both between and within litters. On average, pigs began feeding on Day 12 (range Day 10-28), intake was relatively low (usually < 5 g day ‒1) until Day 20 but increased considerably in the week before weaning, with a mean intake of 63 g day ‒1 (range 2-205 g day ‒1) during that week. Over the entire creep-feeding period, total feed consumption ranged from 13-1911 g per pig. Within litters, intake was positively correlated with birth weight (P < 0.05) and the correlation with weight gains to Day 20 tended to be positive rather than negative. This suggests that greater creep feed intake was typical of the larger and more mature piglets, rather than serving as compensation for poor milk intake among the more deprived litter-mates. However, one exceptional pig began, on Day 14 after several days of weight loss, to eat more creep feed than any other piglet studied, suggesting that compensatory creep feeding can occur at a young age in exceptional cases. In a multiple regression analysis, creep feed intake accounted for 37% of the variation in weight gain in the week before weaning (P < 0.001) and 7% of the variation in gain from Day 10 to weaning (P < 0.01) after variation attributable to antecedent variables had been taken into account. Within-litter differences in weight gain during the 2 weeks after weaning were correlated with weight at birth and weight gain before weaning (P < 0.05), but not with pre-weaning creep feed intake. Hence, creep feed intake appeared to contribute to pre-weaning gains and these in turn were correlated with post-weaning gains; however, a more direct effect of pre-weaning creep feed intake on post-weaning gain could not be detected.
Pajor, E. A., Fraser, D., & Kramer, D. L. (1991). Consumption of solid food by suckling pigs: individual variation and relation to weight gain. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 32(2-3), 139-155.