A study performed in the Netherlands shows that hydroxy trace minerals can improve palatability of piglet diets over sulphate mineral sources. The results show increased chances of maximal feed intake and minimized adverse palatability effects such as post-weaning growth reduction.

The post-weaning growth reduction represents one of the most significant production constraints for pork producers. The multifactorial stressors surrounding the weaning process can result in poor feed intake due to an abrupt and drastic change in the diet of these animals.

Piglets are acclimated to a highly palatable, energy dense, liquid based diet of sow's milk. That diet is suddenly changed to a relatively unpalatable, dry/pelleted feed. Thus, any modifications formulators can use to improve palatability or feed intake are of great interest to pig producers to maintain intake levels during this transition.

Animals can predominantly taste soluble compounds (i.e. salts, sugars, etc.) due to their strong flavors. Soluble compounds that taste salty, bitter, sour or sweet can be detected by the pigs and affect how they might perceive a diet’s taste (or palatability). Hydroxy trace minerals have been developed as a new source of minerals. They’re virtually insoluble at a pH above 4.0, which makes a significant difference in terms of palatability. Comparatively, inorganic sources of minerals such as copper sulphate are highly soluble.

In a recent study in the Netherlands, piglets were provided a free choice of diets containing either sulphate forms of trace minerals (highly soluble) or Selko IntelliBond hydroxy trace minerals (insoluble). It was found that in the first four weeks after weaning, piglets had a significantly higher preference for hydroxy trace mineral diets compared to those with sulphates. This indicates that Selko IntelliBond improved palatability over sulphate sources of minerals. The benefit? Increased chances of maximal feed intake and minimized adverse palatability effects such as post-weaning growth reduction.