Liquid solution to second litter syndrome

UK - Wet feeding has big benefits for breeding sows - and could influence sow longevity, says MLC pig scientist Dr Pindar Gill.
calendar icon 11 July 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Liquid feeding could help increase feed intakes and productivity in gilts. It may also reduce reproductive failure in the next cycle and promote longevity.

He believes that the increased feed intakes achieved by wet feeding could halt second litter drop syndrome. It may also help address the reproductive failure commonly associated with weaned gilts.

"There has not been a huge amount of research published in this area, but there are definitely significant advantages here for first litter gilts," he explained during the 'Paradigms in Pig Science' Conference, Sutton Bonnington.

Dr Gill explained how gilts with lower body weight during their first lactation were more likely to have a prolonged weaning to oestrus interval and produce a much smaller subsequent litter. Basically, they did not have the body reserves to sustain their genetic potential. He said that most producers understood this concept, but found it very difficult to achieve the level of feed consumption required to maintain gilts' growth, development and milk production at such a critical time in her life.

Work by Demeckova et al in 2003, has shown that feed intake for sows fed liquid diets was almost a kg per day higher than those given dry feed in the first two weeks of lactation. By the third week, those fed a liquid diet were consuming 1.5kg a day more than their dry fed counterparts.

"With genetic development focused on increased litter size, it is important to minimise weight loss during lactation by stimulating feed intake," said Dr Gill. "Liquid feeding could really make a difference here and also optimise milk production and so weaning weights," he added.

He believed there were also implications for gestating sows. Increased feed intakes in the latter end of pregnancy could influence piglet birth weights and post-natal viability. In the UK, improvements in these areas could have a positive effect on national herd performance levels, unit productivity and individual business efficiency.

Read our report on Dr Gill's paper

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