Researchers Hope to Boost Piglet Performance by Increasing Sow Milk Production

CANADA - Research being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc is expected to boost the productive performance of baby pigs by increasing the volume and quality of the milk produced by their mothers, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 10 November 2014
clock icon 3 minute read

As part of a multi institutional multi disciplinary research effort being conducted on behalf of Swine Innovation Porc scientists with the Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Prairie Swine Centre and the University of Saskatchewan, are attempting to increase sow milk yield and piglet growth via low-cost feeding and management strategies during gestation and lactation.

Dr Chantal Farmer, a research scientist in sow lactation biology with the Dairy and swine Research and development Centre, explains milk is the only source of nutrients and energy for the suckling piglet but today's hyper-prolific sow is not producing enough milk to optimise growth.

Dr Chantal Farmer-Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada:

15 years ago we had much smaller litters and the sow was not producing enough milk already so now, 15 years later, there was a lot of genetic selection, we increased litter size and we also increased milk yield of sows.

Some people could say that is wonderful. It's good but it's not wonderful because we did not increase milk yield of the sows as much as we increased litter size so right now there's a decrease in terms of amount of milk ingested per piglet compared to what happened 15 years ago so we have a problem.

It's a nice problem but we still have a problem of having too many mouths to feed.

The sow is not producing enough milk per piglet so that's definitely a current problem in the swine industry that we have hyper-prolific sow lines and we don't have enough milk to give to the piglets for them to have optimal growth rate.

Dr Farmer expects this work to be of interest to producers, nutritionists and veterinarians.
She expects to see the first useful results in two years.

Further Reading

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Charlotte Rowney

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