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Copra Meal, Palm Kernel Expellers or Palm Kernel Meal in Diets for Weaner Pigs

21 May 2014

Pig performance between nine and 20kg was similar on a diet containing 15 per cent palm kernel meal as the maize-soybean meal control diet, according to new research at the University of Illinois. Pig performance may be reduced, however, for diets with palm kernel expeller or copra meal.

Three experiments were conducted to evaluate effects of including copra meal, palm kernel expellers (PKE), and palm kernel meal (PKM) in diets for weanling pigs from approximately 9 to 20kg bodyweight, report N.W. Jaworski and colleagues at the University of Illinois, Urbana in Professional Animal Scientist.

A total of 128, 128 and 160 pigs were used in the experiments with copra meal, PKE, and PKM, respectively.

In each experiment, pigs were randomly allotted to four dietary treatments with four or five pigs per pen and eight replicates per treatment.

The control diet was based on corn, soybean meal and four per cent fish meal. Three additional diets were formulated by including 5, 10 or 15 per cent copra meal, PKE, or PKM at the expense of corn and soybean meal.

Diets were formulated to contain equal quantities of digestible amino acids, phosphorus and metabolisable energy (ME). Pigs were fed the experimental diets for 20 or 21 days, and average daily gain, average daily feed intake and gain:feed ratio were calculated.

Results indicated that pigs fed increasing levels of copra meal had a linear reduction (P<0.05) in final bodyweight, overall average daily gain, and average daily feed intake, but overall gain:feed ratio was unaffected.

Pigs fed increasing levels of PKE had a linear reduction (P<0.05) in final bodyweight and overall average daily gain, but overall average daily feed intake and gain:feed ratio were not influenced.

No differences were observed in growth performance if PKM was used.

If diets are formulated based on digestible nutrients and ME, diets for weaner pigs may include up to 15 per cent PKM without affecting overall growth performance, concluded Jaworski and co-authors. However, if copra meal or PKE is used, pig performance may be reduced.


Jaworski N.W., J. Shoulders, J.C. González-Vega and H.H. Stein. 2014. Effects of using copra meal, palm kernel expellers, or palm kernel meal in diets for weanling pigs. Professional Animal Scientist.  30:243-251.

Further Reading

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May 2014

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