Effect of feeding time on the proportion of sows farrowing during work hours

It is sometimes necessary to provide assistance to sows and piglets during farrowing in order to improve piglet survival, resulting in increased labour costs. There is evidence in cattle and ewes that feeding at night results in an increase in the incidence of calvings during the day. In commercial farms, sows are typically fed during daytime hours, with a high percentage of farrowing events occurring unassisted overnight.

The objective of this study was to determine the effect of feeding time (morning vs evening) on farrowing time in sows. A total of 278 sows were used in groups of 12 sows/block and 11 blocks/treatment. Sows were assigned to either morning (0700 h) or evening (1900 h) initiation of feeding upon entry to farrowing room (~d110 of gestation). All sows were placed on a common lactation diet and fed according to established sow feeding curves with feed intake controlled and monitored automatically (Gestal Solo, Jyga Technologies). All sows were switched to a 0700 h feeding time post-farrow. Cameras were placed in each crate to allow for recording of all farrowing events.

There was no difference in born alive, stillborn and mummies (P > 0.10). There was an increase for total number of piglets weaned and a decrease in pre-weaning mortality in sows that received PM feeding. Initiating sow feeding in the morning increased the frequency of farrowing during the day (7:00 am to 3:00 pm) compared to evening fed sows (P < 0.001; 51.43% vs 21.95%, respectively). There was no difference in farrowing duration between treatments (P > 0.10). These results suggest that feeding in the morning may be beneficial for maximizing the number of farrowing events that occur and are completed when workers are present.

Effect of feeding time on the proportion of sows farrowing during work hours (full article)