In this first part of this guide, we will get you covered on two fundamentals when it comes to gestating sows:
- The feeding of the gestating sows
- The housing of the pregnant sows
The two are closely interwoven as are the next guidelines on gestating sow management (see part 2).
Without further ado, let’s dive into practical tips & tricks on how to maximize the feeding of gestating sows, why keeping tabs on their body shape is important and which feeding types are the most adapted to the needs of the gestating sow.
Gestation Sow Feeding
Measure the body score of the gestation sows
Before leaning on the feeding quantities and types, it’s important to be aware of the gestation sows body shape as this will impact the needed feeding quantities.
We have developed a specific body shape score to help you evaluate the gestating sow shape.
Note that the body score should be recorded at three steps to monitor more efficiently its evolution and to bring the corrective measures if necessary:
- At the weaning
- 30 days after the breeding
- 80 days after the breeding
The optimal body shape score of a farrowing sow should be between 3.5 and 4. A score inferior to 2.5 or superior to 4.5 is not optimal and may cause several complications.
Too thin sows in gestation may induce:
- Early farrowing before the expected date
- Lower piglet weight and litter size
- Longer farrowing due to exhausted sows
- Lower milk production
- Increase of Interval Weaning Sexual Mating (IWSM)
- Bad ovular lay and fecundity after weaning
Too fat sows in gestation may reversely induce the following disadvantages:
- Difficult and long farrowing (>4h)
- Increased stillborn piglets due to reduced passage in the vagina
- Lower feed consumption in lactation leading to a high weight loss
- Feet troubles and early culling
Quick tip: during the lactation period, the sow should not lose more than 5% of her body weight at farrowing (-1.5 of body score maximum).
So how to optimize the gestating sow body score efficiently? By giving it the needed feed quantity.
Optimize the feeding nutrition of your gestating sow based on its body score and growth stage
Feed quantity will vary based on the body score of the pregnant sow and its growth stage (starting right after the weaning to days before farrowing).
You can find below a breakdown of the feeding requirements per stage and body score:
Which feed type to choose to optimize the development of gestating sows?
From pre-weaning stage to artificial insemination, feeding sows with lactation has a significant impact on their milk production and on piglets’ weight at weaning, reducing risk of piglet mortality. Lactation feed improves their breeding performances.
It is therefore recommended to use lactation feed between the sow weaning and its artificial insemination.
Ultrapak Hog Lactating is advised to support good production and quality of milk with the objective of increasing piglets’ body weight at weaning. Contact us to receive the product cheat sheet, including feed ingredients, instructions to use and recommended feeding durations. You can also check out Ultrapak’s swine feed range.
Maxi’Mum 118 (Evialis) is advised to support good production and quality of milk with the objective of increasing piglets’ body weight at weaning. Contact us to receive the product cheat sheet, including feed ingredients, instructions to use and recommended feeding durations. You can also check out Evialis’ swine feed range.
Gestation feed is recommended from the post-weaning stage to pre-farrowing one. Feeding during gestation focuses on minimizing embryo and fetal losses and on preparing the sow for farrowing and lactation.
In the very early stages of gestation immediately after conception, the first objective is to provide conditions that will ensure the maximal survival of embryos and favor a large litter size at the subsequent farrowing. In late gestation, fetal growth continues at a very rapid rate and mammary development occurs in preparation for the upcoming lactation.
Ultrapak Hog Gestating is recommended to maintain good sow body score for a longer longevity with an increasing litter birth weight. Contact us to receive the product cheat sheet, including feed ingredients, instructions to use and recommended feeding durations. You can also check out Ultrapak’s swine feed range.
Maxi’Mum 116 (Evialis) is recommended to maintain good sow body score for a longer longevity with an increasing litter birth weight. Contact us to receive the product cheat sheet, including feed ingredients, instructions to use and recommended feeding durations. You can also check out Evialis’ swine feed range.
Quick tip: During the gestation period a sow will drink 20 liters of water daily. Pregnant sows should have access to an individual drinker for ad libitum water consumption.
If feeding is one of the key components of the gestation sow growth, its housing environment has a great impact on its good development.
Gestation Sow Housing Environment
Gestating sows are assigned to breeding pens for a duration of at least 90 days, so pens have to be adapted to the sows. In terms of breeding pen best practices, you should follow these 5 tips:
- Nipple drinker should be well fixed to the pen side with a height of 50-60cm and be placed on the right position. It’s important for the nipple drinker to be easily accessible, as water consumption eases feed intake.
- Corridor accessibility for the boar located in front of the sows to facilitate nose-to-nose contact between the boar and sow during sow heat detection.
- Dry floor to avoid any feet injuries caused by slipperies, which may damage embryo development.
- Sufficient space allowance per sow (2.20m*0.65m).
- Clean floor to avoid any contamination during breeding.
Stay tuned for the second part of this guide that will deal with the management of the sow gestation period.
For any queries about gestation sows feeding and housing, contact us.
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