Research conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc shows the body condition of the gestating sow will impact the volume of milk she'll be capable of producing for her piglets.
An average body condition for a sow at breeding would range from 17 to 19 millimeters of body fat.
Dr. Chantal Farmer, a research scientist in sow lactation biology with the Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says, as part of research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc to determine the ideal body weight for optimum milk yield, scientists adjusted feeding levels during gestation to achieve three different body fats, lean, medium and high.
Dr. Chantal Farmer-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:
The lean were between 14 and 16 millimeters, the medium between 19 and 21 and the high body fat 24 to 27 millimeters.
Then what we've done is we've slaughtered the animals at the end of gestation, collected the mammary glands, looked at the composition, number of cells and so on.
We're not finished with the trial.
We're still right in the middle of all the laboratory analysis.
The first thing that we can tell already though is that the animals that are thinner, the 14 to 16 millimeter body fat at the end of gestation, have less what we call the mammary parenchyma which is the tissue where you have all the milk synthesis.
They have less of the milk synthesizing tissue.
So it leads us to think right now that the animals that have not enough back fat are the ones that are the most problems and when you move from 19 and all the way up to 25, 26 all these animals were similar in terms of amount of the good milk synthesizing tissue.
Dr. Farmer says, while further work is needed, the end goal is to provide information that will assist producers in adjusting feeding programs to ensure maximum mammary development and optimum milk production during lactation.