CANADA - A Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada says, by maximizing the development of mammary cells, the sow will better equipped to supply the milk required for her piglets to maintain optimal growth, writes Bruce Cochrane.
To optimize piglet growth, scientists working on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc are exploring the use of low-cost feeding and management strategies to increase sow milk yields.
Dr Chantal Farmer, a research scientist with the Sherbrook Research and Development Centre, says the number of milk synthesizing mammary cells present is related to the amount of milk that will be produced so it's important to maximum the number of cells in mammary tissue at the onset of lactation.
Dr Chantal Farmer-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:
To do that what I do in my research is to try to increase mammary development.
This development takes place 3 times in the life of a pig.
The first period is from 3 months of age to puberty.
The second period is the last third of gestation and the third period is during lactation.
What I want to achieve is a maximum number of mammary cells at the beginning of lactation so I'm working on two periods before and I'm working on two aspects.
One is nutrition and the other one is intracrinology so either nutrition or hormones.
In terms of nutrition we know that gilts that are growing have to be fed ad libitum.
If we restrict feed them in the period from 3 months to puberty, it will have a negative effect in terms of mammary development.
Feeding in gestation, there is a not a lot of work that's been done.
Over feeding at the end of gestation may not be too good but it seems that protein intake may be beneficial in late gestation but there's really not a lot of work done on nutrition per say.
Dr Farmer is currently looking at body condition of the animal, which is related to nutrition and the amount of back fat at the end of gestation and the impact that has on mammary development.
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