Measuring Lactation Feed Intake

CANADA - One of the most important farm inputs is Lactation Feed Intake, write Lorne and Vick Tannas, swine specialists and nucleus support for Genesus farms in China.
calendar icon 11 August 2015
clock icon 4 minute read

The problem is it is difficult to get accurate measurements and in a timely manner. Here maybe a solution for your farm.

Sow feed intake is what drives milk production. If the intake and the nutrients in the feed are not sufficient for milk production the sow will metabolize her own body to make milk. If she loses more than 10 per cent of her body weight she will have a smaller subsequent litter.

If the nutrient content and feed intake levels are not sufficient then the piglets will not grow during lactation and overall growth throughout the growing period will be poor.

In order to know what the sow is eating we need a method of measuring that is simple and accurate.

This simple method measures all sows in lactation for one day only. This can be done once a month or once every three months.

Be as accurate as possible, don’t over or under estimate measurement amounts.

  • On one day only measure all the feed fed to every sow in farrowing.
  • Write the sow number down
  • Number of piglets she is milking for
  • Room and crate number
  • Days of age of the piglets
  • Amount of feed at each feeding
  • Subtract any feed if it is removed by using a negative number ( -1.3Kgs)
  • If you have 300 sows with piglets you need to measure all 300 for one day only

Make up a chart with enough room for all sows in Farrowing. Fill it out then we can graph consumption.

Table 1:

Farrowing Chart

The assumption is that sows in Farrowing range in days milking from day one to weaning. This will give us a feed curve and overall feed consumption. We then can look at if the sow is getting enough feed to feed herself and her litter based on this curve. If she is deficient she will lose weight or have poor milk production. We need to then look at changing the diet to meet the sow and piglet needs or top dressing with a dense ration with extra nutrients to meet the sow and piglet needs. We may also want to change feed based on when to increase feed.

Here are the results of two farms in graph form. We are able to get the total average feed intake from both farms 5.6 Kgs from farm F (in scatter plot) and 8.5 Kgs average intake from farm C.1 (linear daily average). Litter size and weaning weights are also important in figuring Nutrient value of the needed diet. We use a polynomial of 4 points to get an even look at the trend line.

Lactation Feed Intake - Farm FLactation Feed Intake Kgs. - Farm C.1

Knowing what your lactating sow eats will greatly impact your decisions and results. “The sow is what you feed her”.

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