Use of anions and cations in sowsIt has been shown that balancing the diet for anions and cations plays an important role in preventing milk fever in dairy cows. Therefore, why not benefit from this knowledge and use it in sows too? Of course sows are not usually afflicted with milk fever, but delayed farrowings resulting in increased numbers of still births are a common problem in sow herds (see Table I). The causes include:
- Tedious labour (too weak muscle tones) as a result of too low blood calcium levels.
- Insufficient release of oxytocin, the hormone which elicits labour pains, milk flow and milk let-down.
- Too narrow birth canals due to genetics, constipation and primiparous sows.
- Parity number.
|Duration of farrowing (hours)||Litters||Number of still births (%)|
Beside already published effects on preventing urinary tract infections (UTI) and minimising related metritis problems - reducing the number of still births could be an additional way to improve the number of piglets weaned per sow per year (see Fig. I).
Fig. I. Breeding herd efficiency.
Calcium metabolism The serum calcium level is regulated by hormones and has to be kept in narrow ranges (2.3 -2.8 mm01/1 in sows). Hormones involved in the control mechanism are parathyroid hormone and calcitonin as well as 1.25- (OH)2-vitamin D (active form of vitamin D3). When plasma calcium concentration declines, parathyroid hormone and 1.25-(OH)2-vitamin D are activated and calcium-resorption via the kidneys, calcium-adsorption from the digestive tract as well as bone mobilisation are increaSing. Since there is a permanent, overconsumption of calcium during gestation (because of a low demand) this mechanism is not trained - the parathyroid control mechanism is slowed down and cannot react in time on the changed/increased calcium demands peri-farrowing. Consequences are declining calcium blood levels which can not be balanced in time and in the end calcium is missing for the contraction of muscles and a deficit in calcium blocks the release of oxytocin, which is important for muscle contraction too. Declining calcium levels delay the farrowing process and in the end the livability of the piglets is decreasing and/or the piglets die prematurely.
Balancing the acid-base-balance and regulating the blood pH at around 7.42 (reference value for pigs) is important for the maintenance of all vital functions of the body. The blood pH is regulated via three mechanisms:
- Binding and release of H+ via puffer systems.
- Regulating the partial pressure of carbon dioxide via respiration.
- Regulating the renal H+ and hydrogen carbonate - excretion.
|pH 1 (day 108 pregnancy)||6.7||6.6||0.585|
|pH 2 (farrowing)||6.7||6.1||0.031|
|pH 3 (day 7 post farrowing)||7.2||6.0||<0.001|
|pH 4 (day 1 post insemination)||6.7||5.7||0.001|
|P < 0.05|
The trial was conducted in a climate controlled breeder unit in Southern Queensland in January 2007. The control group was fed conventionally and the trial group received additionally 0.5% Biomin® pHD in the feed for 10 days pre-farrowing until mating. The main focus was on farrowing performance. The addition of Biomin® pHD prefarrowing had a significant response in reducing still births from 1.15 down to 0.73 piglets per litter (P>0.05) + 0.1 piglets/sow/litter. The number of mummified piglets was similar in both groups. The control had numerically less pre-weaning mortality. however this fluctuation of 1.0-1.5% is common on this farm and the difference was not Significant (see Table 4). Furthermore. it was suggested that the addition of Biomin® pHD eased farrowing and reduced the number of farrow assistance as well as reduced the number of discharges post lactation.
|pH 1 (day 108 pregnancy)||6.1||6.1||0.984|
|pH 2 (day 112 pregnancy)||6.3||5.8||0.148|
|pH 3 (day 1 post farrowing)||6.0||5.2||0.002|
|pH4 (day 1 post weaning)||6.3||5.5||0.002|
|pH 5 (day 1 post insemination)||6.1||5.3||0.027|
|P < 0.05|
|Number of sows||108||109|
|Average litter size||10.6||10.3|
|Average birth weights||1.42||1.37|
|Pre-weaning mortality (%)||12.4||13.6|
|Litter weaning weight||57.3||56.7|
|Average weaning weight (21 days)||6.1||6.3|
In consideration of the facts mentioned above the mode of action of Biomin® pHD can be extended in terms of improving piglets born alive due to its supposed effect on the acid -base-balance of the body. Nevertheless. the main focus is still on supporting the natural defence mechanism - via preventing the invasion. multiplication and adhesion of pathogenic bacteria to the urogenital tract of the sow. This effect is based on two strategies:
- Creating unfavourable conditions for the bacteria and inhibiting their, growth by a blend of an inorganic acid and anionic substances.
- Binding pathogenic bacteria and inhibiting their adherence to the urinary tract cell walls by proanthocyanidins (PACs) contained in cranberries.
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