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Lentils – Viable Option for Nursery Pigs

by 5m Editor
7 December 2011, at 8:13am

CANADA - A feeding trial conducted at the University of Alberta's Swine Research and Technology Centre has shown lentils can be included at rates as high as 20 per cent in the diets of weanling pigs without any negative impact on performance, writes Bruce Cochrane.

Lentils are part of the legume family and contain a considerable amount of protein but they also contain some anti-nutritional factors.

An abundance of lentils following the 2010 harvest prompted researchers with the University of Alberta to conduct a three-week feeding trial in which lentils were included in the diets of nursery pigs weaned at three weeks of age.

University of Alberta animal science professor Dr Ruurd Zijlstra says researchers wanted to see how pigs would react to switching the nutritional profile to make sure that there were no negative responses related to the anti-nutritional factors.

Dr Ruurd Zijlstra-University of Alberta

Probably two things that we found, the first one is that pigs are actually are willing to eat lentils so there was basically no response to feed intake.

That's a very good thing because it means that the anti-nutritional factors that were still in these lentils did not have a negative impact on voluntary feed intake so, in other words from that perspective, we can feed 30 per cent lentil.

The other thing we found is that using the predicted digestible nutrient profile that we use for feed formulation, up to about 22 and a half per cent of lentil, we did not find a change in average daily gain and feed efficiency but once we moved to 30 per cent of lentils we saw a slight negative effect on daily gain and feed efficiency.

That means that we conclude that up to close to 20 per cent of lentil in the diet for nursery pigs, you shouldn't expect a negative impact on performance.


Dr Zijlstra says the big advantage is that the availability of lentils provides more flexibility in feed formulation so when there is more cost pressure on canola meal, soybean meal or other protein sources, producers can consider lentils for all categories of pigs.