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Feeding DDGS diets to gestating and lactating sows

Part 11 in the series “What have we learned about feeding distillers co-products to pigs over the past 20 years?”

By Jerry Shurson, University of Minnesota Department of Animal Science
Less research has been conducted to evaluate the effects of feeding dried distillers grain with solubles diets to gestating and lactating sows than for nursery and growing finishing pigs. However, there is substantial evidence indicating that adding up to 30% DDGS to lactating sow diets, and up to 50% DDGS to gestation diets can result in acceptable sow and litter performance. The first study to evaluate the use of DDGS in gestating sow diets was conducted 40 years ago by Thong et al. in 1978, where they used DDGS as a replacement for soybean meal. A total of 64 gilts were fed diets containing 0%, 17.7% or 44.2% DDGS during gestation. There were no differences in the number of pigs born per litter and average pig birth weight among dietary treatments. These results provided the first evidence suggesting that DDGS could replace soybean meal as a source of amino acids, if diets were formulated on a lysine-equivalent basis, at levels up to 44.2% of the diet for gestating sows.

Seventeen years later, Monegue and Cromwell (1995) evaluated reproductive performance responses of sows fed corn-soybean meal diets containing 40% or 80% corn gluten feed, or 40% or 80% DDGS during gestation. A total of 90 fourth-parity crossbred sows (18 sows per dietary treatment) were used in this study. Diets contained similar levels of total lysine, and were fed at different daily consumption levels to equalize metabolizable energy intake to 6.2 megacalorie per sow per day. During lactation, sows were provided ad libitum access to a corn-soybean meal diet for the 28-day lactation period. Farrowing rates averaged 91% and were not affected by dietary treatment. Gestation weight gains tended to be greater for sows fed the corn gluten feed and DDGS diets, indicating that the energy in these corn co-products was well utilized. Average daily feed intake and sow weight loss during lactation were similar among dietary treatments. There were no differences in pigs born per litter, pig birth weight, pigs weaned per litter, litter weaning weights and pre-weaning mortality among dietary treatments. Furthermore, there were no differences in the number of days for sows to return to estrus following weaning among dietary treatment groups. Therefore, these researchers concluded that diets containing up to 80% of corn gluten feed or 80% DDGS can be used with no negative effects on reproduction, lactation and litter performance.

Because the previous two studies only evaluated feeding DDGS diets to sows during one reproductive cycle, Wilson et al. (2003) conducted a two-parity study utilizing 93 multiparous sows to determine the effects of feeding diets containing zero or 50% DDGS in gestation and zero or 20% DDGS in lactation on sow and litter performance using a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Sows were fed a daily amount of feed based on 1% of sow body weight plus 100 grams, 300 grams and 500 grams per day on days 0 to 30, 31 to 60 and 61 to 90 days of gestation, respectively, and were subsequently provided ad libitum access to their assigned diets during lactation. Sows remained on their respective dietary treatment combinations through two reproductive cycles. No differences in sow gestation weight gain, pigs born alive per litter, litter birth weight or average pig birth weight were observed between sows fed zero and 50% DDGS diets during gestation for both reproductive cycles. Dietary treatment combination had no effect on litter size, litter birth weight or litter weaning weight during the first reproductive cycle, but sows fed the 0% DDGS diets during gestation and lactation diets weaned fewer pigs per litter during the second reproductive cycle than sows fed the 50% DDGS diet during gestation and 20% DDGS during lactation in the preceding reproductive cycle. However, this litter size improvement from feeding DDGS diets in a previous reproductive cycle has not been confirmed in subsequent studies. Pre-weaning mortality was greater for sows fed the combination of the 50% DDGS diet during gestation and the 20% DDGS diet during lactation compared with the other treatment combinations during the first reproductive cycle, but dietary treatment combinations had no effect on pre-weaning mortality during the second reproductive cycle. Sows fed the combination of the 0% DDGS diet during gestation and the 20% DDGS diet during lactation had reduced feed intake, which primarily occurred within the first seven days of lactation, but this effect was not observed during the second reproductive cycle. Wean-to-estrus interval was greater for sows fed the 0% DDGS gestation and 0% lactation diet treatment combination compared to sows fed the 50% DDGS gestation diet and the 20% DDGS lactation diet or 0% DDGS lactation diet combinations during the first reproductive cycle. No differences in wean-to-estrus interval were observed during the second reproductive cycle among treatments. These results suggest that feeding a 50% DDGS gestation diet supports good reproductive performance. However, feeding a 20% DDGS lactation diet may reduce feed intake during the first week post-partum if sows are fed a corn-soybean meal diet during the previous gestation period if they are not provided an adjustment period to adapt to a high-DDGS diet during lactation.

Several subsequent studies confirmed the previous results showing that feeding sow diets containing up to 50% DDGS in gestation and up to 30% DDGS in lactation had no negative effects on sow reproduction and lactation performance, milk composition or litter performance (Hill et al., 2005; Hill et al., 2008; Greiner et al., 2008; Song et al., 2010). Song et al. (2010) fed 0, 10, 20 or 30% DDGS diets to mixed-parity lactating sows to determine sow and litter performance, energy and nitrogen digestibility, plasma urea nitrogen and milk fat and protein concentrations. Dietary inclusion rate of DDGS had no effect on digestible energy and metabolizable energy content nor nitrogen retention and nitrogen digestibility of the diets. Sows fed the 20% and 30% DDGS diets had less plasma urea nitrogen at weaning than sows fed the control diet. Diet DDGS inclusion rate had no effect on sow average daily feed intake and backfat change, but sows fed the 30% DDGS diets lost more body weight than sows fed the control diet. Furthermore, pre-weaning mortality of piglets, litter weight gain and piglet ADG were not affected by dietary DDGS inclusion rate. These results suggested that feeding lactation diets containing up to 30% DDGS can result in satisfactory sow and litter performance.

Wang et al. (2013) determined the effects of feeding 0, 20 or 40% DDGS diets to second- and third-parity sows during the last 20 days of gestation through a 21-day lactation period on sow and litter performance, and colostrum and milk composition. No differences were observed for sow average gestation length, wean-to-estrus interval, sow ADFI, lactation backfat and body weight change regardless of dietary DDGS inclusion rate. Furthermore, there were no effects of dietary DDGS inclusion level on total number of pigs born and born alive per litter, average birth weight, pigs weaned per litter or piglet ADG during lactation. No differences were observed in total solids, protein, fat and lactose content of milk from sows fed the DDGS diets compared to those fed the corn-soybean meal control diet. These results indicate that sows can be fed diets containing 40% DDGS in late-gestation and lactation when diets are supplemented with crystalline lysine to replace all of the soybean meal, without affecting sow and litter performance or colostrum and milk composition.

Greiner et al. (2015) conducted three experiments to evaluate feeding 0% or 10% DDGS diets to gestating sows and 0, 10, 20 or 30% during lactation (Experiment 1), and 40% DDGS diets during gestation and 20, 30, 40 and 50% DDGS diets during lactation (Experiments 2 and 3) on sow and litter performance. All diets were formulated to be isocaloric. Results from Experiment 1 showed that increasing DDGS inclusion rate did not affect ADFI, but linearly increased sow weight gain and linearly reduced wean-to-first-service interval. However, there were no effects on subsequent total pigs born per litter among dietary treatments. In Experiment 2, increasing diet DDGS inclusion rate during lactation tended to linearly reduce ADFI and sow weight gain, but there were no differences in litter weight gain. Experiment 3 was conducted during the summer months and there were no effects of increasing DDGS inclusion rate during lactation on sow feed intake, sow weight gain, and litter weight gain. The overall results from these studies suggest that feeding 40% to 50% DDGS diets to sows during lactation may reduce feed intake and litter performance, but feeding diets containing up to 30% DDGS during lactation resulted in acceptable sow and litter performance.


Installments in the DDGS series

Part 1: 20 years of DDGS lessons in pig diets

Part 2: Varied energy and digestible amino acids levels in DDGS manageable

Part 3: Work continues to evaluate performance responses from feeding DDGS

Part 4: Managing carcass yield, pork fat quality when feeding corn DDGS

Part 5: Reaching an understanding of fiber characteristics of corn DDGS

Part 6: Enzymes, pre-treatment improve fiber and nutrient digestibility

Part 7: DDGS show greater antioxidant capacity than in corn grain

Part 8: Need better understanding of energy levels in distillers corn oil

Part 9: Corn DDGS a good source of digestible phosphorus for swine

Part 10: Feeder design and diet management impact performance with DDGS diets

Part: 11: Feeding DDGS diets to gestating and lactating sows


In contrast to previous studies, recent evidence suggests that feeding diets containing high inclusion rates of DDGS during gestation and lactation may compromise sow and litter performance when fed over multiple reproductive cycles. Li et al. (2014) evaluated the effects of feeding 0% or 40% DDGS diets during gestation and 0% or 20% DDGS diets during lactation, and housed in individual stalls or group pens during gestation, on sow and litter performance and sow longevity over three reproductive cycles. A total of 311 Parity 0 females and 90 Parity 1 females were assigned randomly within parity to one of the four dietary treatments, and were maintained on their assigned treatment combinations for up to three reproductive cycles. Sows fed DDGS had fewer pigs born alive (11.0 versus 11.6), weaned (9.8 versus 10.2), and more stillborn pigs (0.9 versus 0.7) than sows fed corn-soybean meal diets (Table 1).

University of Minnesota Table 1: Interactive effects of feeding diets containing distillers dried grains with solubles and housing systems on sow and litter performance over three reproductive cycles (adapted from Li et al., 2014)

Table 1: Interactive effects of feeding diets containing distillers dried grains with solubles and housing systems on sow and litter performance over three reproductive cycles (adapted from Li et al., 2014)

Furthermore, litters from sows fed DDGS gained less weight (47.8 versus 49.8 kilograms) than litters nursing sows fed the control diets. However, feeding DDGS diets had no effect on the percentage of sows completing each reproductive cycle (Table 2), but housing sows in individual stalls during gestation tended to increase the completion rate in the second reproductive cycle, and increased the completion rate in the third reproductive cycle.

University of Minnesota Table 2: Interactive effects of feeding diets containing distillers dried grains with solubles and housing systems on percentage of sows that completed 3 reproductive cycles (adapted from Li et al., 2014)

Table 2: Interactive effects of feeding diets containing distillers dried grains with solubles and housing systems on percentage of sows that completed three reproductive cycles (adapted from Li et al., 2014)

Cumulative pigs born alive after three reproductive cycles was less for sows fed DDGS diets (Table 3), and cumulative pigs weaned per sow tended to be less (23.7 versus 24.5 pigs per sow) when DDGS diets were fed. Results from this study suggest that long-term feeding of DDGS in gestation and lactation decreased litter size and sow productivity but did not affect sow longevity. Long-term housing of gestating sows in group pens decreased litter size, sow longevity and sow productivity compared with housing in individual stalls, and these detrimental effects were more notable when sows were fed the corn-soybean meal diets compared to when feeding the DDGS diets.

University of Minnesota Table 3: Interactive effects of feeding diets containing distillers dried grains with solubles and housing systems on total number of piglets born, born alive and weaned for three reproductive cycles (adapted from Li et al., 2014)

Table 3: Interactive effects of feeding diets containing distillers dried grains with solubles and housing systems on total number of piglets born, born alive and weaned for three reproductive cycles (adapted from Li et al., 2014)

In the same study, Li et al. (2013) evaluated the effects of feeding 0% or 40% DDGS diets during gestation to sows in a group-housed system with electronic sow feeds or individual stalls during gestation on stereotypic and aggressive behaviors. Sows housed in group pens and fed the 40% DDGS diet fought for longer periods of time, tended to fight more frequently, and had greater salivary cortisol levels (indicator of increased stress) at mixing than sows fed the control corn-soybean meal diet. However, sows housed in individual gestation stalls and fed the 40% DDGS diet, spent more time resting, spent less time performing stereotypic behaviors, and had lower salivary cortisol concentrations (less stress) compared to sows fed the corn-soybean meal diet with no DDGS. These results suggest that feeding 40% DDGS diets may reduce welfare of sows when housed in group pens, but improve welfare of sows when housed in individual gestation stalls.

The suboptimal sow and litter performance over three reproductive cycles reported in the Li et al. (2014) study may be a result of increased oxidative stress from feeding DDGS at high inclusion rates to sows. Limited studies have been conducted to evaluate the effects of feeding corn DDGS to sows on oxidative status of sows and their litters. The relatively high concentration of corn oil in DDGS, which consists of high concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids, are susceptible to oxidation from the high temperatures used during the DDGS drying process (Song and Shurson, 2013). Therefore, if high inclusion rates of oxidized DDGS are added to sow diets, increased oxidative stress in sows and piglets may occur. Vitamin E is a very important antioxidant that is essential for minimizing oxidative stress, especially for newborn pigs, because they are born with inadequate vitamin E stores and can only obtain adequate vitamin E from colostrum and milk.

Shelton et al. (2014) conducted a study to determine the effects of dietary vitamin E concentration and source on plasma, milk and pig body tissues concentrations of α-tocopherol when sows were fed 40% DDGS diets during gestation and 20% DDGS diets during lactation. From breeding to Day 69 of gestation, sows were fed the gestation diet containing no supplemental vitamin E. Beginning on Day 70 of gestation, diets were supplemented with 44 or 66 milligrams per kilogram DL-α-tocopheryl acetate or 11, 22, 33 or 44 milligrams per kilogram D-α-tocopheryl acetate and fed through weaning. There were no differences in sow and litter performance among dietary source and supplementation level of vitamin E. However, as the dietary level of D-α-tocopheryl acetate increased, the concentration of α-tocopherol increased in sow and pig plasma, colostrum, milk and pig heart. Sows fed DDGS diets containing 44 milligrams per kilogram of D-α-tocopheryl acetate had greater concentrations of sow and pig plasma concentrations of α-tocopherol compared with sow fed the diet with 44 milligrams per kilogram DL-α-tocopheryl acetate. Results from this study showed that the bioavailability of D-α-tocopheryl acetate relative to DL-α-tocopheryl acetate varies depending on the response criteria considered, but is greater that the suggested potency value of 1.36.

In addition to vitamin E, supplementing sow diets with L-carnitine has been shown to improve reproductive performance and milk production of sows, while also providing antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and other protective functions of the gastrointestinal tract (Ramanau et al., 2004; Ramanau et al., 2005; Musser et al., 2005). Wei et al. (2016) fed 0% or 25% DDGS gestation diets and 0% or 40% DDGS lactation diets containing zero or 100 milligrams per kilograms L-carnitine in gestation and zero or 200 milligrams per kilogram during lactation to explore the potential benefits of L-carnitine on improving intestinal function of their offspring. Results of this study showed no effects of feeding DDGS diets to gestating and lactating sows on intestinal barrier function of their offspring, but supplementing diets with L-carnitine improved intestinal barrier function of newborn and weaned piglets.

Conclusions
The majority of studies evaluating the feeding of DDGS diets to gestating and lactating sows were conducted for only one reproductive cycle, but consistently showed that feeding up to 40% DDGS diets in gestation and up to 30% DDGS diets in lactation results in acceptable sow and litter performance. Only one sow study has been conducted to evaluate feeding 40% DDGS diets during gestation and 20% DDGS diets during lactation over three reproductive cycles. Results from this study suggest that long-term DDGS feeding may result in decrease in litter size, litter weaning weights and sow productivity, but no effect on sow longevity. Furthermore, long-term housing of gestating sows in group pens decreased litter size, sow longevity and sow productivity compared with housing in individual stalls, but these detrimental effects were greater when sows were fed the corn-soybean meal diets compared to when feeding the DDGS diets. Feeding 40% DDGS diets may also reduce welfare of sows when housed in group pens, but improve welfare of sows when housed in individual gestation stalls. The relative bioavailability of vitamin E in DDGS diets varies by source and response criteria used. Supplementing sow diets with L-carnitine improved intestinal barrier function of newborn and weaned pigs, but there was no effect from feeding DDGS diets to sows on intestinal barrier function of offspring.

References

Greiner, L., C. Neill, G.L. Allee, X. Wang, J. Connor, K. Touchette, and J.L. Usry. 2015. The feeding of dried distillers’ grains with solubles to lactating sows. J. Anim. Sci. 93:5718-5724.
 
Greiner, L.L., X. Wang, G. Allee, and J. Connor. 2008. The feeding of dry distillers grain with solubles to lactating sows. J. Anim. Sci. 86(Suppl. 2):63.
 
Hill, G.M., J.E. Link, M.J. Rincker, D.L. Kirkpatrick, M.L. Gibson, and K. Karges. 2008. Utilization of distillers dried grains with solubles and phytase in sow lactation diets to meet the phosphorus requirement of the sow and reduce fecal phosphorus concentrations. J. Anim. Sci. 2008. 86:112-118.
 
Hill, G.M., J.E. Link, M.J. Rincker, K.D. Roberson, D.L. Kirkpatrick, and M.L. Gibson. 2005. Corn distillers grains with solubles in sow lactation diets. J. Anim. Sci. 83 (Suppl. 2):82.
 
Li, X., S.K. Baidoo, Y.Z. Li, G.C. Shurson, and L.J. Johnston. 2014. Interactive effects of distillers dried grains with solubles and housing system on reproductive performance and longevity of sows over three reproductive cycles. J. Anim. Sci. 92:1562-1573.
 
Li, Y.Z., C.E. Phillips, L.H. Wang, X.L. Xie, S.K. Baidoo, G.C. Shurson, and L.J. Johnston. 2013. Effects of distiller’ dried grains with solubles on behavior of sows kept in a group-housed system with electronic sow feeders or individual stalls. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 93:57-66.
 
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Ramanau, A., H. Kluge, J. Spilke, and K. Eder. 2004. Supplementation of sows with L-carnitine during pregnancy and lactation improves growth of piglets during the suckling period through increased milk production. J. Nutr. 134:86-92.
 
Song, R., and G. C. Shurson. 2013. Evaluation of lipid peroxidation level in corn dried distillers’ grains with solubles. J. Anim. Sci. 91:4383-4388.
 
Song, M., S.K. Baidoo, G.C. Shurson, M.H. Whitney, L.J. Johnston, and D.D. Gallaher. 2010. Dietary effects of distillers dried grains with solubles on performance and milk composition of lactating sows. J. Anim. Sci. 88:3313-3319.
 
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Wang, L.S., B.C. Su, Z. Shi, B.M. Shi, and A.S. Shan. 2013. Dietary supplementation with maize distillers dried grains with solubles during late gestation and lactation: Effects on sow and litter performance, and on colostrum and milk composition. Anim. Feed Sci. Technol. 179:149-153.
 
Wei, B., S. Nie, Q. Meng, Z. Qu, A. Shan, and Z. Chen. 2016. Effects of L-carnitine and/or maize distillers dried grains with solubles in diets of gestating and lactating sows on the intestinal barrier functions of their offspring. Br. J. Nutr. 116:459-469.
 
Wilson, J.A., M.H. Whitney, G.C. Shurson, and S.K. Baidoo. 2003. Effects of adding distiller’s dried grains with solubles to gestation and lactation diets on reproductive performance and nutrient balance. J. Anim. Sci. 81(Suppl. 2)47-48.

Source: Jerry Shurson, who is 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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