Lactose is an important ingredient of swine diets – but the source of digestible sugar has become costly in recent years.

In research at North Carolina State University presented at the Midwest Animal Science meeting this week in Des Moines, IA, J. Gou explained how chocolate candy can fill in as a source of lactose in weaned pig diets. Gou found that chocolate candy can supply up to 45% of lactose without affecting pig performance.

Chocolate candy feed (CCF) is a byproduct of milk chocolate production. It doesn’t contain as much lactose as dried whey permeate – but it is cheaper.

In the trial, Gou and researchers studied 1,408 weaned pigs at a Murphy-Brown swine facility. They divided the pigs into four treatment groups; three of the groups were fed varying amounts of CCF. Researchers also sampled blood and monitored the pigs for diarrhea.

According to Gou adding CCF to swine diets did not affect average daily gain or gain-to-feed ratio. There was also no impact on pig health including diarrhea scores.

The CCF used in the experiment was from a company called International Ingredient Corporation. The company mixes together byproducts from many different kinds of chocolate candy, which helps standardize the amount of lactose in CCF, he said.

“This product is pretty consistent,” Gou said.