-by feeding more frequently around farrowing.
Can piglet survival be directly related to the energy status of the sow in the time around farrowing?
According to Danish results from Aarhus University, Denmark the short answer is – Yes.
By ensuring a continuous energy supply to the sows during the days prior to farrowing, the potential for increasing piglet survival is improved markedly.
Feeding sows a high fibre diet at least 3 times per day have shown to give a shorter farrowing and considerably fewer still born piglets, hence keeping the sows topped up on energy around farrowing will increase the number of liveborn piglets.
Normal procedure in many farrowing sections is to feed the sows twice per day from entry until after farrowing. Some has practiced feeding 3 times, but this has often been during daily work hours, giving the sows a period of 12-15 hours without new energy supply. Research done on DanBred sows by Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Denmark, have shown that feeding 3-4 times per day with around 8 hours intervals reduced both the duration of the farrowing and the amount of still born piglets.
The duration of a normal farrowing is 4 to 7 hours. Studies lead by senior scientist Peter K. Theil shows that if farrowing starts more than 3 hours after the latest feeding, the duration of the farrowing is prolonged compared to sows which started farrowing within 3 hours of the last feeding. If the farrowing start 6 hours or more after last feeding, the duration of the farrowing is even longer which leads to a significantly higher amount of still born piglets.
|Figure 1. The length of the farrowing process of the sow increases if the farrowing starts more than three hours after the last meal (Theil et al., 2017).||Figure 2. The number of stillborn piglets increases when the time from the latest feeding to the end of farrowing increases (Theil et al., 2017).|
A prolonged farrowing due to energy depletion prior to and during farrowing causes fatigue. In short; the longer the time from the latest feeding until farrowing starts, the longer the farrowing is, thus the bigger the risk of stillborn piglets, as well as a higher need for farrowing assistance with risk of infection.
Furthermore studies emphasises that the quality and composition of the feed also has an influence. Especially the amount of dietary fibres in the ration has an impact. It has been found that dietary fibres contribute to sustain and prolong the energy status in the sow around farrowing. Additionally some types of dietary fibres has proved to increase the amount of colostrum produced, helping to increased body weight of the piglets in early life. The recommended daily ration to DanBred sows in the final days before farrowing is 3 Kg/sow/day, when using barley-based feed including 5-600 gram of quality dietary fibres.
By focusing on the sows in period around farrowing as well securing the more constant energy supply to the sows during the days before farrowing, the number of liveborn piglets can be increased, furthermore an improved vitality of the piglets leads to higher piglet survival general.
3 tips from the DanBred Technical Services Team:
- Feed the sows 3 times per day from entry in the farrowing section, for example at 7am, at 2 pm and at 9 pm.
- 2 days before farrowing give around 3 Kg per sow per day, when using a barley-based feed ration
- Make sure the sows get a daily ration high on quality dietary fibres. 5-600 grams of fibre per sow per day
We post regular updates on how to manage hyper prolific DanBred sows, so make sure to check in regularly.
Find more info on the study done by Aarhus University