Genetic progress has resulted in a steady increase in the litter size in past decades. Unfortunately, the same type of genetic progress in individual piglet birth weight has been elusive. Consequently, sow feeding strategies in the last third of gestation have been examined with the hopes of improving piglet birth weights. These US and Brazilian researchers wanted to evaluate 2 different feeding levels (1.8 and 2.2 kg/d) in the last third of gestation on the piglet birth weight and the female reproductive performance. A total of 407 females were fed on a diet based on corn-soybean meal (3.25 Mcal ME per kg and 0.65% standardized ileal digestible lysine) from day 90 of gestation until farrowing.
As expected, the females fed on 2.2 kg/d of diet from day 90 to day 112 exhibited greater body weight gain compared to the females fed on 1.8 kg/d (P < 0.001). There was no evidence of the effects of feeding levels on individual piglet birth weight or on the within-litter Coefficient of Variation in either gilts or sow litters (P ≥ 0.90). This finding was true for both larger and smaller litter size. Similarly, no differences in the stillborn rate, mummified
-fetus rate, and percentage of piglets weighing less than 1,000g at birth were observed between the treatments (P ≥ 0.28).
The females fed on 1.8 kg/d of diet exhibited greater feed intake during lactation, compared to the females fed on 2.2 kg/d (P < 0.05). Weaning weight, weaning-to-estrus interval, subsequent litter size, and culling rate were not
affected by the dietary levels (P ≥ 0.23).
Take Home Message
Increasing feed intake from day 90 of gestation until farrowing increased the body weight gain in sows, had no effect on the piglet birth weight or variation and did not provide any trailing improvements in piglet growth or sow
Increased late gestation feed intake did reduce the lactation feed intake.
Note: The practice of increasing gestation feed intake to sows with below target body condition scores was not specifically examined in this experiment. There could be some improvement in piglet birth weights and survivability when sow feed is increased in the third trimester for sows that are in below target body condition.
Submitted by Brent Jones, DVM
Ref: Mallmann AL, Betiolo FB, Cailloti E, Mellagi APG, Ulguim RR, Wentz I, Bernardi ML, Gonçalves MAD, Kummer R, Bortolozzo FP. Two different feeding levels during late gestation in gilts and sows under commercial conditions: impact on piglet birth weight and female reproductive performance. J Anim Sci. 2018 Aug 29. doi: 10.1093/jas/sky297