Piglets ‘easier to wean’ using blackcurrant juice, Writtle student’s study finds

Writtle University College student Alex Evans, whose dissertation looked at weaned piglets' preferen

Writtle University College student Alex Evans, whose dissertation looked at weaned piglets' preference for blackcurrant juice over water. - Credit: Archant

Piglets are easier to wean using blackcurrant juice, a study by an Essex student has found.

Alex Evans, 22, who is taking a BSc (Hons) in animal management at Writtle University College in Chelmsford, found that adding blackcurrant flavouring to piglets’ drinking water affected the drinking behaviour of two sets of weaner pigs on the university’s farm.

Previous studies have established that weaner pigs have 15,000 taste buds compared to a human’s 10,000 so are more sensitive to taste and odour. Alex was supervised in her studies by Dr Nicola Blackie.

“Adding artificial flavouring, and therefore improving the palatability of drinking water for piglets, can prove beneficial to the farming industry by encouraging them to drink more and consequently eat solid feed more. This, in turn, can potentially increase piglet growth rates,” said Alex, from Warwickshire.