Towards better digestibility and more efficient feed use in pig fattening

If decreasing production cost is a constant challenge, feed cost is one of its major components. Indeed, knowing that feed represents 65 to 70% of the total cost of production and that energy represents 86% of the cost in pig diets (Shurson, 2012), working on feed efficiency – and especially on improving the Feed Conversion Ratio (FCR) - is definitely a significant economic issue and a major challenge for pig producers!

To improve this indicator, it may be interesting to work on several aspects, both on feed and animal levels such as:

  • Optimising feed digestibility by the choice of suitable raw materials free from anti-nutritional factors;
  • Improving feed digestibility by cooking or pelleting processes;
  • Enhancing the physiological digestive ability of pigs, with special nutrients or a combination of them.
For more than fifteen years, advanced research on plant extracts has been at the core of CCPA Group know-how for all animal species, particularly for pigs, in the drive towards more efficient feed use and reduced total production costs. Thus, through this phytoexpertise, extensive knowledge of the effects of a large number of plant extracts has helped us to select some extracts that have a physiological effect on digestion and, specifically, some that stimulate enzyme production.

The benefits of spices

Among the nutritional specialities resulting from the R&D of the CCPA Group, one of them, called Crea® Advance, optimises the digestive process in pigs for optimal nutrient use (proteins, energy and lipids), from the post weaning to the fattening period.

Its originality lies in its composition based on a synergistic association of vegetable extracts and spices. The three spices in its formulation act in synergy and have complementary effects on the various segments of the digestive tract (see table1), leading to better digestibility of the feed and, more generally, of organic matter. Moreover, these spices have a positive influence on the structure of the intestinal barrier.

Table 1: Crea® Advance is based on a formulation that combines several spices with complementary effects

Salivary secretions and amylase activity

Gastric secretions and mucous blood flow

Biliary secretions

Pancreatic enzyme activity

Brush border enzyme activity

Gut barrier structure

Immune system maturation

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity

Spice 1








Spice 2





Spice 3






Furthermore, with its original mode of action, this new solution enables a release of energy and amino-acids. Several trials conducted, for instance, at the CCPA experimental farm have helped to evaluate and attribute a nutritional value to the amount of these released nutrients. These results, obtained during in vivo trials on farms, were confirmed by laboratory in vitro experimentation (Artemis Laboratory, France). The comparative results established an objective evaluation of the energy and protein savings, as follows:

  • +1.3% on energy digestibility
  • +2% on total protein digestibility
  • +1.3% on organic matter digestibility

As far as feed cost is concerned, it represents a saving of about € 2.50 per ton of complete feed.

On pig farms, these values would be similar to an improvement in FCR between 3% and 4.2%.

The proof in the field

These good results have been successfully checked in field conditions (see picture1), by varying different criteria:

  • Animal weight (12 to 120 kg)
  • Feed programme (single or combined)
  • Raw materials used in the feed (cereals, co-products...)
  • Levels of energy and proteins (high or low...)
  • Genetics used (more or less muscular)

These trials were conducted in three European countries, on a total of 3,500 pigs in breeding systems allowing accurate measurement of performances (especially the FCR), with a product incorporated in liquid or dry feed (see table 2).

It is important to note that the improvement of the FCR did not adversely impact the other performance criteria: daily weight gain, carcass quality, mortality...

Table 2: Summary of Crea® Advance field trials


Feed presentation

Diet profile


Changes in FCR with Crea® Advance

Trial 1



Wheat, Barley, soya

+ 4%


Trial 2



Wheat, barley, soya, rapeseed



Trial 3



Co-products, barley, soya



Trial 4



Corn, Wheat, soya



In conclusion, influencing digestive enzyme secretion would appear to be a good way significantly to improve the FCR. The farm trials results with Crea® Advance confirmed the scientific data and helped to produce an exact prediction of the technical response of this natural combination of plant extracts and spices. In a market increasingly receptive to saving money and respecting the environment, the CCPA Group's new approach is definitely an interesting way to improve breeding profitability.

Pierre Montnach, Pig Product Manager

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