Influence of weaning age on the villous height and disaccharidase activities in the porcine small intestine
Body weight gain after weaning is correlated with villous height and disaccharidase activity. This evidence suggests that the maintenance of the small intestinal structure and function after weaning is important for the growth of piglets. We demonstrated that the influence of weaning age was obtained by disaccharidase activities and villous height in eight sections of the porcine small intestine. Therefore, we designed three weaning ages (weaned at the ages of 14, 21 or 28 days) and the piglets were slaughtered after 7 or 14 days post‐weaning. The remaining suckling piglets were slaughtered at the age of 1, 7, 14, 21 and 28 days. Four piglets were slaughtered at each event; therefore, 44 piglets were used in this study. Villous height and disaccharidase activities were measured in each section of the small intestine. Early weaning such as that at 14 days had severe influence on villous and disaccharidase activities. In particular, weaning of 14‐day‐olds did not result in maltase activity at least 2 weeks post‐weaning. Accordingly, the weaning age of crossbred piglets is recommended to be at least 21 days or more on the basis of villous height and disaccharidase activity analyses.
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