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Increasing meal frequency may help pregnant sows

TAGS: Swine
Kansas State University. Kansas State pigs nursing.jpg
Kansas State swine researchers are studying the best ways to feed sows prior to giving birth, work that could impact survivability and productivity in all phases of swine production.
Feeding sows two to four meals per day instead of one may increase performance.

Kansas State University swine nutritionists are making progress on studies that look at the best strategies for feeding sows before they give birth -- work they say will affect survivability and productivity in all phases of swine production.

Jason Woodworth, a swine nutritionist with Kansas State Research & Extension, said a trend toward increased litter sizes has led to challenges with lower birth weights, more pigs born dead and longer farrowing periods for the sow.

“So, we’re trying to find ways that we can help overcome these challenges without negatively impacting sow performance or adding unnecessary costs for the swine producer,” Woodworth said.

Woodworth and his colleagues on Kansas State’s swine team will present recent findings on feeding sows just prior to farrowing during the university’s annual Swine Day, which will be held online only Nov. 18-19.

“We have conducted a couple of large transition sow studies with commercial partners and have another one happening right now,” Woodworth said.

Several other studies on this topic are taking place around the world, he said.

“Collectively, it does not appear that there is any specific diet formulation change that is the magic bullet to resolving the challenges faced by the sow prior to giving birth,” Woodworth said. “However, we have learned that how we feed the sow is important; increasing the frequency of meals has shown the greatest benefit. Instead of feeding one meal per day — which is common — feeding sows two to four meals results in better performance.”

He noted, however, that like all research, newer findings can change recommendations, and it’s important for swine producers to stay current.

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