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Application of fiber in gestation sows

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Fiber supplementation via top-dress tended to decrease number of non-viable pigs at weaning when provided to sows previously fed low fiber diets.

In swine production, fiber is commonly used to control feed intake of gestating sows to maintain proper body condition of the sows and to promote feed intake during the lactation period. This in turn is expected to reduce farrowing problems due to being overweight, while also minimizing farrowing duration and improving lactation performance. The inclusion of different fiber ingredients during gestation in sows has been linked to heavier piglet weights at birth and a tendency to increase weaning piglet weights.

We conducted a study in collaboration with Hanor Company to evaluate the effectiveness of increasing dietary fiber intake during gestation and during the pre-farrowing period to improve sow and litter performance in lactation. A total of 117 sows were assigned to either a low fiber diet providing 9% of total dietary fiber or a high fiber diet providing 18% TDF. Wheat middlings and soy hulls were the main fiber sources used.

Dietary treatments began after the sows were inseminated and were fed throughout the gestation period. Near the end of gestation (day 112), sows were moved into farrowing rooms where they were given either a fiber-rich supplement (top-dress) or not provided with a top-dress within each of the low and high fiber gestation groups, thus resulting in four treatments overall. The top-dress contained 43% TDF, primarily from soy hulls and wheat middlings, and was provided at 0.90 kg (2 lb) daily on top of the normal lactation feed allotment until farrowing.

Sow body weight at placement was not affected by fiber levels in the gestation diets or the top-dress provided during the pre-farrowing period (P > 0.39) and was not different between treatments at weaning (P > 0.48). The number of pigs born alive tended to be greater (P= 0.10) for sows fed the top-dress (13.03 and 12.88 for sows that received the low and high fiber diets during gestation, respectively) compared to sows not receiving top-dress (11.89 and 11.42 for sows fed the low and high fiber diets during gestation, respectively). It is unlikely that this was directly related to the top-dress supplement, considering that the number of stillborn pigs (P = 0.75) was not impacted.

Similarly, the number of pigs weaned per litter was not significantly different. However, the number of non-viable pigs at weaning (those weighing less than 8 lbs) was lower (P = 0.05) when sows received a low fiber diet during gestation in combination with the fiber-rich top-dress supplement (0.33 pigs per litter) compared to the sows fed the high fiber diet during gestation with top-dress supplement treatment (1.3 pigs per litter).

Results of this study suggest that high fiber supplementation during gestation and additional fiber fed immediately pre-farrowing did not influence sow body weight, nor did it decrease the number of stillborn pigs or pig viability at birth. However, fiber supplementation via the top-dress tended to decrease the number of non-viable pigs at weaning when it was provided to sows previously fed the low fiber diets during gestation. In this study, fiber supplementation via a top-dress during the transition period was initiated at placement, and therefore, was relatively short in duration. Further studies with a longer supplementation period and greater number of sows should be conducted to determine the potential impact of fiber on sow and litter performance.

Source: Gabriela Martinez and Eric van Heugten, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

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