Skip to main content

Sows with high milk production had both a high feed intake and high body mobilization

  • A. V. Strathe (a1), T. S. Bruun (a2) and C. F. Hansen (a1)

Selection for increased litter size have generated hyper-prolific sows that nurses large litters, however limited knowledge is available regarding the connection between milk production, feed intake and body mobilization of these modern sows. The aim of the current study was to determine what characterized sows with high milk production and nursing large litters, differences between sows of different parities and effects of lactational performance on next reproductive cycle. In total 565 sows (parity 1 to 4) were studied from 7 days before farrowing until weaning. On day 2 postpartum litters were standardized to 14 piglets. Weight and back fat thickness of sows were measured at day 7 prepartum, day 2 postpartum and at weaning. Litters were weighed at day 2 and at weaning. Pearson correlation coefficients between variables were calculated and regression models were developed. The average daily feed intake (ADFI) of the sows was 6.1±1.1 kg/day, average daily gain (ADG) of the litter was 2.92±0.53 kg/day and sows weaned 13.0±1.1 piglets. First parity sows generally had a lower ADFI and milk production and a decrease in total born piglets in next litter compared with parity 2 to 4 sows, which could be explained by a relatively higher proportion of their body reserves being mobilized compared with multiparous sows. The ADG of the litter was positively related by ADFI of the sows, litter size and BW loss and increasing the ADFI with 1 kg/day throughout lactation likely increased the ADG of the litter with 220 to 440 g/day in parity 1 to 4, respectively. Increasing the ADFI by 1 kg/day reduced the BW loss with 6.6 to 13.9 kg of parity 1 to 4 sows, respectively, during lactation, whereas increasing the average milk yield with 1 kg/day raised the BW loss with 4.3 to 21.0 kg of the four parities during lactation. The number of total born piglets in the next litter was positively related to the number of piglets born in the previous litter. In conclusion, both a high feed intake and a high mobilization of body reserves was a prerequisite for a high milk production. The sows might be very close to the physical limit of what they can ingest and future research should therefore, focus on optimizing the dietary energy and nutrient concentrations of diets for lactating hyper-prolific sows and herein distinguish between primiparous and multiparous sows.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Auldist DE, Morrish L, Thompson M and King RH 1994. Response of sows to varying litter size. In Proceedings of the Nutrition Society of Australia, 26–28 September 1994, Newcastle, NSW, Australia, p. 175.
Baidoo SK, Aherne FX, Kirkwood RN and Foxcroft GR 1992. Effect of feed intake during lactation and after weaning on sow reproductive performance. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 72, 911917.
Clowes EJ, Williams IH, Baracos VE, Pluske JR, Cegielski AC, Zak LJ and Aherne FX 1998. Feeding lactating primiparous sows to establish three divergent metabolic states: II. Effect on nitrogen partitioning and skeletal muscle composition. Journal of Animal Science 76, 11541164.
Dourmad JY, Etienne M and Noblet J 1996. Reconstitution of body reserves in multiparous sows during pregnancy: effect of energy intake during pregnancy and mobilization during the previous lactation. Journal of Animal Science 74, 22112219.
Dourmad JY, Étienne M, Valancogne A, Dubois S, van Milgen J and Noblet J 2008. InraPorc: a model and decision support tool for the nutrition of sows. Animal Feed Science and Technology 143, 372386.
Eissen JJ, Apeldoorn EJ, Kanis E, Verstegen MW and de Greef KH 2003. The importance of a high feed intake during lactation of primiparous sows nursing large litters. Journal of Animal Science 81, 594603.
Eissen JJ, Kanis E and Kemp B 2000. Sow factors affecting voluntary feed intake during lactation. Livestock Production Science 64, 147165.
Hansen AV, Lauridsen C, Sørensen MT, Bach Knudsen KE and Theil PK 2012a. Effects of nutrient supply, plasma metabolites, and nutritional status of sows during transition on performance in the next lactation. Journal of Animal Science 90, 466480.
Hansen AV, Strathe AB, Kebreab E, France J and Theil PK 2012b. Predicting milk yield and composition in lactating sows: a Bayesian approach. Journal of Animal Science 90, 22852298.
Hughes PE, Smits RJ and Xie Y 2010. Relationships among gilt and sow live weight, P2 backfat depth, and culling rates. Journal of Swine Health and Production 18, 301305.
Kim SW and Easter RA 2001. Nutrient mobilization from body tissues as influenced by litter size in lactating sows. Journal of Animal Science 79, 21792186.
Koketsu Y, Dial GD, Pettigrew JE and King VL 1996. Feed intake pattern during lactation and subsequent reproductive performance of sows. Journal of Animal Science 74, 28752884.
Koketsu Y, Dial GD, Pettigrew JE and King VL 1997. Influence of feed intake during individual weeks of lactation on reproductive performance of sows on commercial farms. Livestock Production Science 49, 217225.
Le Cozler Y, David C, Beaumal V, Johansen S and Dourmad JY 1998. Effect of feeding level during rearing on performance of large white gilts. Part 2: effect on metabolite profiles during gestation and lactation, and on glucose tolerance. Reproduction Nutrition and Development 38, 377390.
Lucia T Jr, Dial GD and Marsh WE 2000. Lifetime reproductive performance in female pigs having distinct reasons for removal. Livestock Production Science 63, 213222.
Mosnier E, Etienne M, Ramaekers P and Père MC 2010. The metabolic status during the peri partum period affects the voluntary feed intake and the metabolism of the lactating multiparous sow. Livestock Science 127, 127136.
Pluske JR, Williams IH, Zak LJ, Clowes EJ, Cegielski AC and Aherne FX 1998. Feeding lactating primiparous sows to establish three divergent metabolic states: III. Milk production and pig growth. Journal of Animal Science 76, 11651171.
Quesnel H, Meunier-Salaün M-C, Hamard A, Guillemet R, Etienne M, Farmer C, Dourmad J-Y and Père M-C 2009. Dietary fiber for pregnant sows: influence on sow physiology and performance during lactation. Journal of Animal Science 87, 532543.
Schenkel AC, Bernardi ML, Bortolozzo FP and Wentz I 2010. Body reserve mobilization during lactation in first parity sows and its effect on second litter size. Livestock Science 132, 165172.
Strathe AV, Bruun TS, Zerrahn J-E, Tauson A-H and Hansen CF 2016. The effect of increasing the dietary valine-to-lysine ratio on sow metabolism, milk production, and litter growth. Journal of Animal Science 94, 155164.
Strathe AV, Strathe AB, Theil PK, Hansen CF and Kebreab E 2015. Determination of protein and amino acid requirements of lactating sows using a population-based factorial approach. Animal 9, 13191328.
Trottier NL and Easter RA 1995. Dietary and plasma branched-chain amino acids in relation to tryptophan: effect on voluntary feed intake and lactation metabolism in the primiparous sow. Journal of Animal Science 73, 10861092.
Vadmand CN, Krogh U, Hansen CF and Theil PK 2015. Impact of sow and litter characteristics on colostrum yield, time for onset of lactation, and milk yield of sows. Journal of Animal Science 93, 24882500.
van den Brand H, Heetkamp MJ, Soede NM, Schrama JW and Kemp B 2000. Energy balance of lactating primiparous sows as affected by feeding level and dietary energy source. Journal of Animal Science 78, 15201528.
Zak LJ, Cosgrove JR, Aherne FX and Foxcroft GR 1997. Pattern of feed intake and associated metabolic and endocrine changes differentially affect postweaning fertility in primiparous lactating sows. Journal of Animal Science 75, 208216.
Zak LJ, Williams IH, Foxcroft GR, Pluske JR, Cegielski AC, Clowes EJ and Aherne FX 1998. Feeding lactating primiparous sows to establish three divergent metabolic states: I. Associated endocrine changes and postweaning reproductive performance. Journal of Animal Science 76, 11451153.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 1751-7311
  • EISSN: 1751-732X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 16
Total number of PDF views: 153 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 821 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 15th February 2017 - 22nd January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.