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Inspired by newborn piglets, Earlyfeed – the young animal nutrition brand of Royal Agrifirm Group – will be incorporating an innovative flavoring in its piglet feed portfolio in September 2022. This pioneering flavor looks not only to the masking effect of sweet tastes, traditionally used in the industry, but also to the attractive and calming impact of maternal recognition. The flavoring, Piglet’s Flavorit, will be included in the Babi creep feed line and the Vitastart starter concentrates. The initial launch will be at their Factory of the Future awarded Drongen, Belgium facility and then will be integrated at their other plants for the European market.

What finds a piglet appealing?

The traditional diet of a piglet 10-years ago looks much different than the diets fed today, this is related to legislation – antibiotic-free, ban on medicated zinc-oxide – and added inclusion of functional feed ingredients – galacto-oligosaccharides, health fibers, etc. These changes led to Earlyfeed seeking a new and innovative flavor solution for its piglet feed product line. Instead of pursuing the traditional concept of using only sweeteners to attract piglets and mask undesirable flavors, they considered what a piglet finds appealing.

Observing the piglet

This started with observing the piglet and what naturally draws it to feed. The groundbreaking feed intake solution, called Piglet’s Flavorit, is based on how olfactory cues can create feelings of familiarity and recognition. When applied correctly, a smell can trigger the piglet’s innate reflex to search for its mother and food. Through this maternal recognition, piglets can achieve smoother feed transitions to result in improved continuous feed intake, reduced stress levels, and increased overall welfare and performance.

Back to nature

Swine Product Developer of the Royal Agrifirm Group, Sofie Tanghe was influential in pursuing this alternative mindset and acknowledges,

“Changing the flavor of your piglet diet is not something you do overnight. But we found it was time to look at it from a piglet’s perspective. With Piglet’s Flavorit, we really went back to nature to discover the innate preference of the piglet.”

Sweet and umami

When developing the new flavor blend, Earlyfeed looked to the base flavor profile of the products and added the necessary tastes and smells to mimic the maternal fluids a piglet is accustomed to. By including both sweet and umami, Piglet’s Flavorit creates both an appealing odor and taste for the piglet.

“The ambition of Earlyfeed is to do everything ‘right from the start’ and that is why we like Piglet’s Flavorit. With the implementation of this feed intake concept, Earlyfeed creates association and familiarization [of the feed] with its mother’s smell soon after birth.”

Changing industry

This new feed flavoring is another example of how Earlyfeed is working to stay innovative in the changing industry of agriculture. By supporting consistent feed intake, Earlyfeed is working to contribute to a responsible food chain as well as support animal health and maximize profitability.

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