Brent Jones from Southwest Ontario Veterinary Services, Does Increasing Late Gestation Feed Intake Improve Birth Weight?


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

reproductive performance.


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



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