Researchers from the Adaptation Physiology group looked at the role of the sow when learning piglets, among other things, eating solid feed. Their main conclusion: piglets want the same food as the sow.
Role of the mother and environment
When the mother of the pig is nearby, piglets are willing to try new food faster and eat more of it. Another important factor in the feed intake of piglets was the environment in which the piglets grew up. Piglets from an enriched pen where straw, wood shavings and interesting objects such as branches are provided are also more likely to sample unknown food.
Sows and piglets eating together
The results of this study are already used to facilitate the transition at weaning. Eating together with the sow is facilitated in a newly developed group housing system for lactating sows and their piglets. Animal feed companies are applying the results of the research by adding the same flavour to sow feed and piglet feed.