Yeast Added to Sow Diet Improves Piglet Performance

Top-dressing sow diets with a yeast product greatly improved the growth rate of the litter, according to research by Dr Kim of North Carolina State University.
calendar icon 27 November 2008
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Dr Sungwoo Kim, North Carolina State University

Dr Kim has recently joined the Swine Nutrition Group in the Animal Science Department at North Carolina State University and he reported his research into yeast culture in sow diets in the University's Swine News.

"Limited nutrient intake during lactation coupled with increased demand for milk production to support a large litter often leaves sows with severe catabolic condition and may reduce sow longevity," he wrote.

"Alternatively, restricted milk production, which would be less taxing on the sow, will not satisfy the nutrient demands of the piglets. Proper nutritional management to to minimize the negative energy balance of the sow while maximizing milk output to support the growth of her litter is an important issue in swine production."

He added that dietary supplementation of yeast culture is frequently used to improve milk production of dairy cows.

To find out the effects of yeast culture supplementation in sow diets, Dr Kim and his co-workers used 335 sows at a commercial facility. The pregnancy and lactation diets and feeding regimes used at the farm were changed only by top-dressing a yeast culture product on the diet fed to the treated sows.

Performance of sows fed diets with or without yeast culture supplementation
Parity Primiparous Multiparous P-valued
Treatment CONa YCb CONa YCb SEMc Par Trt Par x
Sows (n) 21 26 151 137
Lactation feed intake (kg/sow/day) 6.6 6.8 7.9 7.8 0.1 0.001 0.825 0.303
Litter size at birth (piglets) 11.6 11.3 11.6 11.7 0.1 0.451 0.924 0.528
Litter size at weaning (piglets) 10.8 10.8 10.2 10.3 0.1 0.011 0.502 0.693
Litter birth weight (kg) 14.5 14.3 17.2 17.7 0.2 0.001 0.381 0.575
Litter weaning weight (kg) 70.0 74.8 65.7 69.9 0.7 0.015 0.004 0.884
Daily litter weight gain (kg) 2.64 2.88 2.31 2.48 0.04 0.001 0.008 0.746
Daily pig weight gain (g) 245.1 267.7 227.9 241.4 3.0 0.006 0.013 0.582
Days return to oestrus (d) 5.9 5.7 4.5 5.0 0.2 0.104 0.325 0.619
a CON: sows in the control group
b YC: sows in the treatment group receiving yeast culture (XPC, Diamond V Mills; 12g/day during pregnancy, 15g/day during lactation)
c SEM: pooled standard error of the means
d Par = parity; Trt = treatment; Par x Trt = parity by treatment interaction
From Kim et al., 2008. Asian-Austr. J. Anim. Sci., 21 (7), 1011-1014

This dietary addition of yeast culture improved (P<0.05) the growth of the piglets without affecting the feed intake of the sows or their time to return to oestrus.


Dr Kim concludes that further research is needed to explain these improvements, suggesting that any or all of the following factors may have been affected by feeding the yeast culture:

  • increased sow milk production
  • improved milk quality
  • increased mobilization of sow body reserves and/or
  • improved nutrient digestibility.
November 2008
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