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Research Targets Identify Calcium, Phosphorus Needs of Sows

23 November 2012
Manitoba Pork Council

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CANADA - Research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc will provide swine producers a clearer indication of the levels of calcium and phosphorus required by gestating sows to ensure health, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of a multi-disciplinary initiative aimed at reducing lameness and increasing longevity of breeding sows, researchers are assessing the effect of calcium and phosphorus on bone health and comparing the bone health of sows housed in groups to sows fed the same diets but housed in stalls.

Dr Denise Beaulieu, a research scientist nutrition with the Prairie Swine Centre, says one question is if the type of housing impacts the sows' calcium and phosphorus requirements.

Dr Denise Beaulieu-Prairie Swine Centre:

We're trying to see, for example, if the ones in group housing maybe they have increased exercise or maybe the sows in stalls are standing more and all of these could have an effect on their requirements for calcium and phosphorus.

Our system is a free access stall system so when the sows go into the stalls to eat, a gate locks behind them and they are free to eat without the other sows bothering them.

This allows us in a nutrition study also to feed them separately so we can give each sow exactly what she requires. I have a masters student working on this project.

She feeds every sow individually in the morning their requirement and then half of the sows are allowed to go out and mingle and if they want to interact with each other, fight or what ever do, or most of them just go and lay down, they are free to do that. The other stalls are maintained as if they were in a stall housing situation.

We are able to feed them separately, however also have a group housing situation.

Dr Beaulieu says researchers are tracking calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood of the sow as an indication of dietary sufficiency, the sow's behavior and farrowing measures including piglet birth weight, piglet numbers, health of the piglets and growth of the piglets.

She expects the first reports to be released late next spring.

ThePigSite News Desk

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