Individual variation in creep feed intake and its relation to adaptation to weaning were studied in piglets weaned at 4 wk of age. The animals received either a "low-complexity" creep-starter diet based on corn, barley and soybean meal (12 litters), or a "high-complexity", medicated, commercial diet without soybean meal (12 litters). Diets were fed as creep feed during the 2 wk before weaning, and as the sole diet during the 2 wk after weaning. Creep feeding behavior of piglets was monitored by video recording. Pigs fed the high-complexity diet consumed more creep feed (P < 0.05), tended to gain more during the week before weaning (P < 0.10), and converted feed more efficiently and gained more weight in the 2 wk after weaning (P < 0.01). Use of creep feed varied greatly among individual littermates. Multiple regression analysis showed that on the high-complexity diet, pigs that used creep feed more than their littermates tended to be those with low gains in weeks 1-3 after birth (P < 0.001), and tended to gain more weight during the week before and during the 2 wk after weaning (P < 0.01). The trends were consistent but weaker with the low-complexity diet. However, predictive power was low, with creep feeding accounting for only 4% of individual variation in post-weaning gain on the high-complexity diet and 1% on the low. Regardless of diet quality, therefore, creep feeding remained highly variable and only weakly related to weight gains during the 2 wk after weaning.
Fraser, D., Pajor, E. A., & Feddes, J. J. R. (1994). The relationship between creep feeding behavior of piglets and adaptation to weaning: effect of diet quality. Canadian Journal of Animal Science, 74(1), 1-6.