The end is always dictated by the start

17 May 2023

By Iain Lyle, Harbro monogastric technical support manager

The trend within the pig industry for high prolificacy has been widely documented and reported across the globe. Even within our own data we can see an increase in total born / litter of around 30% in a typical indoor herd (chart 1.) This increase in prolificacy has driven the requirement to ensure that nutrition is right at key times in the production cycle.

With a finite amount of space within the sow’s womb, average birth weight may reduce as total number of piglets born increases. Finding the sweet spot is the aim, to produce as many viable piglets as possible within your system, but with good average birth weights which affects lifetime performance.

In terms of birthweights, the aim of the producer is to see as much consistency as possible, reducing variation which increases management and reduces efficiency.

Graph 2 shows that farm C achieves the highest total piglets born/sow (18.12) but ¼ of those piglets weigh 1.05kg or less; this is higher than the other farms and higher than the producer would like. Years ago, a piglet under 1kg would be deemed unviable, though today, piglets born at this weight can still perform with appropriate levels of feeding, but lighter birth weights can mean sub optimal performance throughout a pig’s lifetime.

We have the potential to influence birth weight and eventual bacon weight before the pig is even born. Ensuring the sow has the right nutrition when she is lactating will mean better quality of follicles recruited which will go on to give better eggs and better foetuses, which in turn leads to better birth weights and subsequent performance.

There are critical times within a sow’s reproductive cycle when it is crucial that her nutritional requirements are met. In the first stage, birth to day 7, she needs to be on a rising plane of nutrition for milk production and to drive follicular recruitment. At mid lactation nutrition is key to maintaining her milk and peak feed intake. From weaning till service, calorific intake is important to ensure quality and quantity of eggs produced; and lastly, particularly during late pregnancy, specific nutrients are required for foetus and mammary tissue development. Then the process starts again.

We work with our customers to ensure that the dietary requirements are met throughout each stage of the cycle, to help improve birth weight which is fundamental to lifetime performance.

To find out how we can help you improve the lifetime performance of your pig unit get in touch:

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