Optimal feed level during the transition period to achieve faster farrowing and high colostrum yield in sows

Takele Feyera, Sigrid J.W. Skovmose, Signe E. Nielsen, Dar'ya Vodolazs'ka, Thomas S. Bruun, Peter K. Theil

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This study aimed to determine the optimal supply of lactation feed during the transition period to minimize farrowing duration (FD) and maximize colostrum yield (CY) and quality with the overall aim of reducing piglet mortality. A total of 48 sows were stratified for body weight and assigned to six levels of feed supply (1.8, 2.4, 3.1, 3.7, 4.3, and 5.0 kg/d) from day 108 of gestation until 24 h after the onset of farrowing. The number of total born, live-born, and stillborn piglets; birth time and birth weight of each piglet; and frequency of farrowing assistance (FA) was recorded, and blood samples were obtained from newborn piglets at birth. Live-born piglets were further weighed at 12 and 24 h after birth to record weight gain, which in turn was used to estimate intake and yield of colostrum. Colostrum samples were collected at 0, 12, 24, and 36 h after the onset of farrowing. FD was shortest (4.2 h) at intermediate (3.7 kg/d), longest (7.1 to 7.6 h) at low (1.8 and 2.4 kg/d), and intermediate (5.6 to 5.7 h) at high (4.3 and 5.0 kg/d) feed intake (P = 0.004; mean comparison). FA was lowest (0.7% to 0.8%) at intermediate feed intake (3.7 and 4.3 kg/d) and substantially elevated (4.3% to 4.7%) at both lower and higher feed intake (P = 0.01; mean comparison). The cubic contrast revealed 4.1 kg/d as the optimal feed intake to achieve the shortest FD and to minimize FA. Newborn piglets from second-parity sows were less vital than piglets from gilts as evaluated by blood biochemical variables immediately after birth. CY was greatest at 3.1 kg/d (P = 0.04), whereas the cubic contrast revealed 3.0 kg/d as the optimal feed intake to maximize CY. Concentrations of colostral components were affected by the diet, parity, and their interaction except for lactose concentrations. In conclusion, the study demonstrated the importance of proper feed level during the transition period on sow productivity. Moreover, this study estimated 4.1 and 3.0 kg/d as the optimal feed intake during the transition period to improve farrowing characteristic and CY, respectively, and these two feed intake levels supplied daily 38.8 MJ metabolizable energy (ME) and 23.9 g standardized ileal digestible (SID) lysine (3.0 kg/d) or 53.0 MJ ME and 32.7 g SID lysine (4.1 kg/d). The discrepancy of optimal feed intake for optimal farrowing and colostrum performance suggests that it may be advantageous to lower dietary lysine concentration in the diet fed prepartum.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberskab040
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • energy supply
  • farrowing kinetics
  • sow nutrition
  • stillbirth
  • transition period
  • vitality


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