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Peter Kappel Theil

Dietary supplement rich in fiber fed to late gestating sows during transition reduces rate of stillborn piglets

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The beneficial effects of dietary fiber (DF) from a behavioral and welfare perspective have been thoroughly studied. However, data on the effects of DF on reproductive performance are scarce. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the impact of increased DF supply during the last 2 wk of gestation on stillbirth rate, preweaning mortality, and total piglet mortality. A total of 644 sows were selected for the experiment from a commercial farm, and the sows were inseminated in weekly batches. Sows in the control group (n = 310) were fed according to the normal feeding strategy of the farm with a gestation diet until 1 wk before expected farrowing, then a transition diet until d 5 of lactation, and then a lactation diet until weaning. Sows in the treatment group (n = 334) were fed as the control group except that 280 g/d of the gestation diet (from d 102 to 108 of gestation) and 570 g/d of the transition diet (from d 109 of gestation until farrowing) was daily replaced with 350 and 700 g/d, respectively, of a DF-rich supplement. Both groups received isocaloric diets on a NE basis. The numbers of live-born and stillborn piglets as well as mortality of live-born piglets with presumed causes of death were recorded. The supplemented DF reduced the proportion of stillborn piglets from 8.8 to 6.6% (P < 0.001) and mortality of total born piglets from 22.3 to 19.9% (P = 0.004) but had no impact on preweaning mortality of the piglets (P = 0.21). Moreover, supplemented DF reduced the proportion of death due to poor viability (P < 0.001; 2.8 vs. 1.5% in the control and treatment groups, respectively) and prevalence of piglet diarrhea (P = 0.004; 0.7 vs. 0.3% in the control and treatment groups, respectively). Crushing, low birth weight, and poor viability were the top 3 contributors to preweaning mortality of live-born piglets, in descending order. In conclusion, the supplemented DF reduced the proportion of stillborn piglets and total piglet mortality as well as mortality due to poor viability and piglet diarrhea in lactation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Pages (from-to)5430-5438
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017

    Research areas

  • dietary fiber, late gestation, piglets, preweaning, stillbirth, transition period

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