Pig International - November 2012 - 22
❱❱ Sow nutrition
sow body condition changes, which
means that appropriate management
actions can then be taken in order to
optimize sow reproductive performance.
Preventing weight loss
Several management factors can
be applied to decrease sow weight loss
during lactation. Increasing sow feed
intake seems to be the most obvious
solution. However, in many cases this
is not as easy as it seems. The first
management step should be to optimize
the temperature in the farrowing room.
Room temperatures in farrowing rooms
are often around 23 degrees C to 24
degrees C, which is optimum for piglet
survival. Sow feed intake, however, is
negatively affected by these temperatures.
Sow feed intake decreases by
0.17kg with every degree increase
in environmental temperature above
16 degrees C (Black et al., 1993). It is
possible, by insulating piglet nests, to
decrease the farrowing room temperature
to between 18 degrees C and 20 degrees C
which is close to the optimal temperature
for sows. This will encourage sow feed
intake to increase without affecting
piglet survival. Furthermore, sow cooling
systems, such as drip or snout cooling,
can also increase sow feed intake.
Secondly, plenty of good quality
drinking water should be provided
because water and feed intake have
been shown to be correlated. The
drinking nipple should provide water
at a rate of 2.5 liters per minute.
using dry or liquid feed. Dry creep feed is
commonly used from four days after birth
and prepares the piglet and its intestine
for the shift from milk to dry feed after
weaning (research has shown that feeding
a milk replacer increases piglet growth and
could reduce sow lactation weight loss).
A close-up scan to measure back fat
depth and loin muscle depth.
Optimizing gilt development
In addition, water quality should
also be checked, especially on
farms with their own water well.
Thirdly, the sow ration could be more
concentrated and could be formulated
with compounds that produce the least
amount of internal heat when digested.
Reducing lactation burdens
Another way to decrease weight
loss during lactation is to decrease the
lactation burden of sows. Possible routes
are to reduce the lactation length, but this
may be limited to remain in accordance
with animal welfare conditions.
Alternatively, the number of piglets
suckling can be decreased, or piglets
can be creep fed. Decreasing the
number of piglets suckling can be done
by split weaning, by weaning part of
the litter in the last week of lactation,
or intermittent suckling by separating
the sow and piglets for a few hours
each day. This reduces suckling and
encourages creep feed intake by piglets.
Both methods stimulate follicle
development, but their effects on
weaning to oestrus interval and weight
loss have been found to be variable.
(reviewed by Soede et al., 2009).
Creep feeding piglets can be done by
Well-developed gilts are better able
to withstand lactational losses and
show a better performance throughout
lactation, compared with less developed
gilts. (Clowes et al., 2003; Hoving et
al., 2010). Furthermore, well-developed
gilts are more likely to have better feed
intake during the lactation than a less
developed one (Lewis and Bunter, 2011).
The commonly used target is 140kg
body weight at first insemination,
which is at the second oestrus after
puberty. The age at which this weight
should be achieved varies between
husbandry systems, but is typically
between 210 and 240 days.
Increased litter size and number
of piglets weaned has increased the
metabolic demands on the lactating
sow, which can lead to increased weight
losses. Sow weight losses above 11
percent should be prevented, because
they have a negative effect on embryonic
survival, litter size and farrowing rate.
Optimized gilt development results in
an increased litter size and farrowing rate
in second parity may improve.
Dr. Hoving joined Provimi as technical service
manager (swine) in 2012.
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