Feeding Sows RIGHT All the Way Through

Jul 03, 2023

Proper nutrition of the breeding herd plays a key role in maximizing herd productivity and profit. Traditional feeding strategies for the reproductive female have used body reserves as a buffer against short-term deficiencies in nutrient intake, resulting in minimal damage to the fetal or suckling piglets. However, modern sows, with a lean genotype and higher reproductive performance, must be managed differently since they start their reproductive life with fewer reserves. It is well established that the way sows are fed in one stage of the reproductive cycle will affect productivity during subsequent stages. As a result, an integrated feeding strategy is needed, starting with the gilt and continuing throughout each successive litter, designed to maintain high productivity and prolong the reproductive life of the sow. The proof that a strategy is working is not only in the longevity and productivity of the sow but also in the performance of her offspring.

Nutrition is the key component that ensures the modern sow achieves her genetic potential for reproduction. In practical terms, the actual level of sow performance in modern herds is well below the animal’s capability. Many farms average 20-22 piglets/sow/year compared with the potential of 30 piglets/sow/year. Table 1 highlights some of the achievable production targets for the modern sow.

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