Meat & Eating QualityProductivity & Profit

Written by Christoph Hutter, Product Manager Feed Additives, ADDCON GmbH and Dr. Christian Lückstädt, Technical Director Feed, ADDCON GmbH.

DanBred breeding sows deliver extraordinary reproductive results, therefore an attentive focus on feeding and body condition during lactation will lead to consistent reproductive performance and high lifetime productivity. Supporting sows with the regular use of potassium diformate (KDF) in lactation diets has been shown to improve the overall condition of sows as well as support immediate piglet growth and litter performance.

The effect of organic acids in pig production has been examined world-wide, in particular the use of potassium diformate (KDF, e.g. FORMI®) in weaned piglets and finisher pigs has been thoroughly described. However, more recently data on the use of KDF in sows has also become available. A Holo-analysis of all published trials has confirmed that KDF on average improves feed intake in swine by 3.5 %, weight gain by 8.7 % and feed efficiency by 4.2 % (Lückstädt & Mellor, 2010).

KDF has furthermore been shown to have an effect on performance of sows and their litters. Adding KDF to diets for sows had a positive effect backfat thickness in gestation as well as piglet growth performance (Øverland et al., 2009). A further study concluded that KDF in sow diets from pre-farrowing (six days before) until weaning can improve feed intake and thereby sow body condition (Lückstädt, 2011).

Generally the trials have found an increased feed intake in sows, in particular after farrowing and during lactation, a larger feed intake in sows was observed. The results shown in figure 1 and table 1 indicate that increasing feed intake at an early stage of lactation results in maximised feed intake during the total lactation period, which in turn will increase milk production and reduce sow weight loss. Furthermore, the results show that for each additional kilogram of daily feed intake during lactation, an additional 0.1 piglets were born in the following cycle.

Figure 1: Daily feed intake of sows fed with or without FORMI® (Landkildehus, 2001)


Table 1: Effects of 0.5% FORMI® dietary inclusion in sows fed from one week before farrowing until weaning (modified from Lückstädt & Greiffenstein, 2016)


A key to optimising reproduction is the control of weight and backfat losses during lactation. In Spain, observations have shown that including dietary KDF for farrowing and lactation sows throughout different seasons resulted in a significantly lower backfat loss compared to sows which were not fed organic acids.


Table 2: Backfat measurements of sows fed with or without FORMI® (in mm), (Gaso & Freixa, 2006)

x,γ mean values within one column and within one experimental period with different superscripts are significantly different (P<0.05)


It has also been found that adding KDF in the diets of sows tended to increase the total digestibility of fat with the effect that the content of estimated energy in the lactation diets increased (Øverland et al., 2009). Table 3 shows that sows which had KDF in their diet consumed more energy after farrowing than sows fed without KDF. Additionally, sows fed KDF required significantly less energy to compensate for the body weight loss during lactation.


Table 3: Effect of FORMI® on sows under tropical conditions (modified from Lückstädt, 2011) *based on 3.224 Mcal ME/kg lactation feed; **based on 5.971Mcal ME/kg feed energy to rebuild mobilised body mass (Weiland, 2012)


Supplementing sow lactation diets with KDF leads to a higher feed intake, resulting in reduced backfat loss during lactation. Furthermore KDF tends to enhance the digestibility of fat, thereby increasing the content of estimated energy in lactation diets. All in all leading to sows in a better metabolic condition after lactation, hence reducing the number of non-productive days. Maintaining sows in a proper body condition will increase sow longevity and lead to more consistent reproductive performance. Regular use of KDF in lactation diets has shown to improve the overall condition of the sow, and is therefore highly recommended especially under tropical conditions where sow feed intake can be challenged.

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Reference List

Gaso, J. and Freixa M. (2006) ‘Evaluation of the effect of Formi on lactating sows’ University of Barcelona (internal report – SNAM-Code 2005-09-2005-09-11), 143 pp.

Landkildehus, P. (2001) ‘Effect of K-diformate in the diet for lactating sows on production performance’ Korn-of-Foderstof Kompagniet, Viby, Report sow trial 200 (internal), pp. 1-6.

Lückstädt, C. and Mellor, S. (2010) ‘Holoanalysis – the acid test in pig diets: calculation of economical effects in different conditions.’, Kraftfutter, 93(1/2), pp. 18–21.

Lückstädt, C. (2011) ‘Effect of dietary potassium diformate on feed intake, weight loss and backfat reduction in sows: pre-farrowing till weaning’, Proceedings of the British Society of Animal Science and the Association of Veterinary Teaching and Research Work, 2(1), pp. 145–164.

Lückstädt, C. and Greiffenstein, N. (2016) ‘Dietary potassium diformate in sow nutrition in Latin America – Impact on sows and piglets’ Tropentag, Book of Abstracts, Vienna September 18-21, 2016, p. 227.

Øverland, M., Bikker, P. and Fledderus, J. (2009) ‘Potassium diformate in the diet of reproducing sows: Effect on performance of sows and litters’, Livestock Science. Elsevier B.V., 122(2–3), pp. 241–247. doi: 10.1016/j.livsci.2008.09.005.

Weiland, T. (2012) ‘More stable sow weight enhances piglet vitality’ Asian Pork Magazine – February 2012, p. 23-25.


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