Supplementing Sows Milk

Many pork producers today are re-evaluating the use of supplemental milk and routinely three questions come up…

  • Does supplementing milk enhance performance?
  • Is there a difference in milk supplements?
  • What about cleaning and sanitizing (convenience)?

Starvation is the main reason why 25-30% of pigs born alive never survive to weaning age.

Additionally, extensive research (Boyd et al., 1995; Odle & Harrell, 1998) documents that piglets given ad libitum access to manufactured liquid diets can grow up to 70% faster than sow-reared littermates. Such data implies that milk production by the sow constraints piglet growth however, it appears that the piglet and sow are co-limiting (both are capable of greater production but are coordinately regulated to a level beneath the maximum for either animal). Providing supplemental milk to pigs nursing sows at 18 days of age resulted in supplemented pigs weighing 4 lbs heavier at weaning (25 days of age) than pigs only receiving sows" milk (Zijlstra et al., 1996), showing that supplementing pigs with a milk replacer can maximize their growth potential pre-weaning while this growth potential is lost in pigs only receiving sow"s milk.

Land O"Lakes Purina Feed researchers have developed a unique product that outperforms conventional milk replacers. SoluStart Pig Milk Replacer can improve your young pigs" survival rate dramatically when sows won"t milk, have litters too large to feed, or die.

SoluStart Pig Milk Replacer contains high quality protein, carbohydrates, lactose and highly digestible fat source plus amino acids, vitamins (A, D, E, C, folic acid) and minerals (copper, zinc and selenium). This new product also contains high levels of % solids in the final product; when mixed at recommended levels it is equivalent, or higher, than that of sow"s milk and significantly higher than some competitors in the market today. SoluStart also contains other ingredients specifically selected to improve intestinal well-being and improve young piglet immunity.

The weaning period is a multi-factorial stress on the young pig often associated with immediate post-weaning anorexia. This time of under-nutrition, which leads to a growth check, also directly affects the gut composition and function. This, in turn, increases the susceptibility of the gut to disease. The presence of certain fermentable carbohydrates in the diets of weaning pigs can stimulate fermentation in the gut, and thus may lead to a faster stabilization of the rapidly changing microbial community after weaning (J.P.Lallès et al. 2005).

Beta-glucan is one of the ingredients in SoluStart. Beta-glucan is an immuno-modulating dietary additive that plays a role in boosting immune capabilities of the young pig thereby helping the pig combat disease challenges. This is a proprietary/patented product which is also employed in Land O"Lakes calf milk replacers.

Fructo-oligosaccharide is another prebiotic ingredient found in SoluStart which stimulates lower gut fermentation resulting in growth of beneficial bacteria such as lactobacilli, and decreases Clostridium and Enterobacteriaceae, thereby maintaining a healthy GI tract. High Ig porcine plasma is exclusive to SoluStart and again is important to help the young pig combat disease at a time when their immunity is still developing.

How does SoluStart perform among other milk supplements? At day 14, SoluStart either outperforms or performs similarly to the other leading competitor brands. Looking at daily gain (Table 1) SoluStart outperformed Brand Y during Week 1, 2 and the combined Week 1 and 2, while performing similarly to Brand X. There were no differences in Feed: Gain amongst the milk supplements tested.

Table 1




Brand X

Brand Y

Pig Wt (lbs)

Day 0





Day 7





Day 14

16.28 a

15.90 ab

13.33 b

Daily Gain (lbs)

Week 1

0.69 a

0.71 a

0.46 b


Week 2

1.00 a

0.95 ab

0.82 b


Week 1+2

0.85 a

0.83 a

0.64 b


Week 1





Week 2





Week 1+2




Within each row, numbers with a different letter are significantly different (P<0.05).

A key differentiating factor of SoluStart is its solubility and hence convenience in cleaning and sanitation. SoluStart uses patented agglomeration technology developed by the Land O"Lakes Purina Feed research team to build particle size. This technology has been used very successfully in LOL calf milk replacers and is now being incorporated into pig milk replacer. The theory behind this technology is that by enlarging the particle size, it can penetrate the water surface allowing the enlarged particle to dissolve into solution. This aids in the mixing process allowing fat and protein in the product that the customer is paying for to dissolve in solution, the pig to receive more nutrients and reduces the waste in containers. Most other milk replacer products do not use agglomerated technology and this is clearly evident when comparing the products under a microscope and when dissolving in a container.

This picture shows pigs that were supplemented with Solustart or Brand X milk replacer. As you can see from the picture, pigs receiving SoluStart are cleaner than pigs receiving Brand X. Again, this patented technology keeps the product in solution which means less mess on the young pigs.

Milk replacers have come a long way and are certainly a preference by some producers. Interest is growing and when looking at milk replacers it is important to keep in mind key distinguishing features such as those held by SoluStart,

  • Quality constructed milk replacer
  • Superior solubility/mixing
  • Health benefits "built in"
  • Provides superior nutrition
  • Excellent performance

SoluStart  is used not only in farrowing for enhanced performance but also after weaning for improving performance of small pigs in the first few days of the nursery. Our colleagues in Northwest Iowa stated that a production system in Minnesota has been using SoluStart in the nursery particularly for light weight or sick pigs and getting great results in growth.

Another large Southern Minnesotan producer changed from a competitor product to SoluStart because of the reduction in residue and said they found ‘the pigs easier to wean". Currently, they feed the first 2 days after weaning on SoluStart alone and then mixed with pellets plus have dry pellets available for an additional 5-7 days depending on their pigs" weight.

When it comes to using SoluStart or Gel it appears that it is very much based on management style and the equipment available. They are both exceptional products and if a producer prefers using milk replacer then Land O"Lakes Purina Feed certainly has an excellent option to offer.

For further information SoluStart pig milk replacer (Product # 1513000), please see your local feed sales representative at a Land O"Lakes Feed Co-op or Purina Mills Dealer. Visit us online at,,,

Copyright © 2008 Land O"Lakes Purina Feed LLC. All rights reserved. SoluStart is a registered trademark of Land O"Lakes Purina Feed LLC. Due to factors outside of Land O"Lakes Purina Feed"s control and because of market uncertainties, individual results to be obtained, including but not limited to financial performance, profits, losses or otherwise, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by Land O"Lakes Purina Feed.     



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Submitted by khanjee on Sat, 02/17/2018 - 11:51

good one. site