Sector Swine

Back to nature to stimulate piglet feed intake

Early feed intake is of utmost importance in piglets. Piglets that have learned to eat solid feed before weaning are better prepared for the post-weaning period, leading to better feed intake, performance and gut health after weaning. To increase early feed intake, it is crucial to stimulate the piglet’s exploration towards the feed and ease the transition from sow milk to dry feed. Earlyfeed specialists have included Piglet’s Flavorit in their creep feed and starter concentrates, an innovative feed intake solution to quickly familiarize the piglet with the feed, attracting it by flavors it naturally prefers.

Piglet’s Flavorit: A natural approach

With the development of Piglet’s Flavorit, the R&D team went back to nature to discover the innate preference of the piglets. Therefore, it was inspired by how newborn piglets find their way to the nipple without any assistance from the sow. The piglet’s sense of smell plays here a crucial role in successful nipple attachment.

Natural behaviors as a guide

To attract the piglet to the nipple, specific odor cues are secreted by the mammary gland of the sow. Research has shown that when the piglet’s sense of smell is blocked, their ability to locate a teat and begin to suckle is strongly impaired. Also, altering the smell of the sow’s udder by washing the sow’s abdomen with organic solvents has been demonstrated to hinder teat localization and suckling (Morrow-Tesch and McGlone, 1990).

Maternal scent: guiding and calming newborns

Also human infants respond to olfactory cues coming from their mother’s nipple region, guiding the neonate to the nipple and thereby contributing to early nipple attachment and sucking. Research has shown that babies will preferentially turn their head in the direction of the mother’s breast odor (Porter and Winberg, 1999) and the exposure to this odor increases oral activity, stimulates eye opening, and delays and reduces crying in newborns (Doucet et al., 2007). Also an increase in the newborn’s crawling behavior and exploratory movements of the head have been observed (Hym et al., 2021).

Furthermore, the maternal breast milk odor has a calming effect on newborn babies. Research has shown that babies exposed to maternal breast milk odor had a lower increase in salivary cortisol (stress hormone) after heel-prick blood sampling compared to babies exposed to formula milk odor. Also the babies’ heart rates increased less, their oxygen saturation levels decreased less and they had less behavioral pain responses to the heel-prick blood sampling when exposed to the maternal breast milk odor (Nishitani et al., 2009; Badiee et al., 2013; Tasci and Kuzlu Ayyildiz, 2020).

Implementing nature’s lessons in piglet feed

The Earlyfeed team has implemented this knowledge in their piglet feed with the Piglet’s Flavorit concept. This innovative feed intake solution mimics these specific odors secreted by the mammary gland, triggering the piglet’s innate reflex to search for its mother, creating feelings of familiarity and recognition. Through this maternal recognition, the piglet’s exploration towards the feed is stimulated and they can achieve smoother feed transitions resulting in improved continuous feed intake, reduced stress levels, and increased overall welfare and performance.


Piglet’s Flavorit leverages natural, instinctive behaviors to improve early feed intake in piglets, ensuring better growth and health.

Your Earlyfeed expert
Sofie Tanghe
Product Developer Pigs

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