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Three Ways to Get the Most Out of Creep Feeding Pigs

23 September 2016

Nursery management sets the pace for pigs’ lifetime performance, so minimizing production lags is crucial during this phase. Creep feeding is one practice you can use to optimize performance during the weaning period.

Research at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo. has shown creep-fed pigs ate more aggressively and experienced early and sustained gains in the nursery compared to pigs that weren’t creep-fed.

“Successful pork producers know many factors affect pig performance,” says Brenda DeRodas, Ph.D., director of swine research at Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo. “When considering which tools would work best within an operational budget, producers should keep in mind the numerous ways creep feeding can support production goals.”

Here are three ways creep feeding can help you make the most of your nutrition program.

1. Encourage intake

In a Purina Animal Nutrition Center creep feed study, pigs creep fed for 3-5 days pre-weaning scored higher on a number of key performance indicators (KPI) compared to those not offered creep feed. 

One of the KPI’s was average daily feed intake. Data indicates the creep-fed nursery pigs showed 13 percent higher average daily feed intake during the first week after weaning than those not offered creep feed. (See Figure 1)

“No matter how good your feed program is, if the pigs don’t eat as much as they need it doesn’t help the pigs,” DeRodas says. “Pigs that eat aggressively can access the nutrition they need, and creep feeding has been shown to create early, aggressive eaters.”

2. Support optimal productivity

Research showed the benefits of creep feeding were maintained throughout the nursery. Pigs offered creep feed experienced 28 percent higher average daily gains than those not fed creep. (See Figure 1) Additional trials showed the creep-fed pigs were 1.1 pounds heavier at 20 days post-weaning and 1.8 pounds heavier at 36 days than their counterparts that were not fed creep. (See Figure 2)

“According to our research, creep-fed pigs gained and maintained a weight advantage over the pigs that weren’t creep-fed,” DeRodas says. 

3. Prevent waste

To get the most out of creep feeding, start by choosing a highly palatable creep feed with similar ingredients and flavor profile to the pre-starter and starter feeds in your nutrition plan. This can help minimize interruptions during feed transitions.

Begin creep feeding 3 to 5 days before weaning. Feed only as much as the pigs will eat to minimize waste. Feeding on mats twice daily gives pigs better access to feed and further minimizes waste. Always remove refused feed before putting down fresh feed.

Feed pigs when the sow is eating so they are less likely to be suckling. If they are asleep or suckling when you place creep feed, they might not notice it.

Creep feeding has been shown to have many benefits that – over time – can help you maximize your return on investment. Getting pigs off to a good start at weaning puts them on the path to optimal productivity through to finishing.

For more tips on getting the most out of your nutrition program in the nursery and beyond, visit


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