Research conducted by the University of Alberta has concluded the diets of weanling pigs can include up to 20 percent lentils without any negative impacts on performance.
Lentils contain higher levels of protein than cereal grains but less than canola meal or soybean meal and are a potentially good source of energy but they contain antinutritional compounds that can reduce performance when fed to pigs.
An abundance of lentils following the 2010 harvest prompted researchers to launch a three week feeding trial in which lentils were included in the diets of nursery pigs weaned at three weeks of age.
Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra, an animal science professor with the University of Alberta, says the trial began about one week after weaning and researchers gradually replaced 20 percent of the soybean meal and ten percent of the wheat in the ration with lentils.
Clip-Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra-University of Alberta:
Probably two things that we found.
The first one is pigs actually are willing to eat lentils so there was basically no response to feed intake so that's a very good thing because it means the antinutritional factors that were still in these lentils, they did not have a negative impact on voluntary feed intake, so in other words from that perspective we can feed 30 percent 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 percent of lentil we did not find a change in average daily gain and feed efficiency but once we moved to 30 percent 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 percent of lentil in the diet for nursery pigs, you shouldn't expect a negative impact on performance.
Dr. Zijlstra says the big advantage is lentils are one more feedstuff that can be considered for diet formulation providing more flexibility in the feedstock matrix.