Impact of a specialized feeding regime for replacement gilts on lactation performance
Project 18-007- Lead Resesarcher: Robert Friendship, University of Guelph
Sow milk production is becoming increasingly important with the use of hyperprolific sows and resulting large litters. It is therefore essential to focus research on increasing milk yield. One of the limiting factors of milk production is the number of milk-secreting cells that are present at the beginning of lactation. In pigs, rapid mammary development takes place from 90 days of age until puberty. Nutrition and management during this period can have an important impact on the development of milk-secreting cells during this time.
Dr. Friendship’s project will test the impact of feeding programs that are designed to reduce growth rate in gilts on milk production at first lactation. Reducing the growth rate in replacement gilts is the primary strategy used to prevent lameness but consideration for the effect on mammary development and subsequent milk production has not been evaluated. The strategies evaluated in this project will be the use of feed restriction and the use of added fiber to slow growth rate of gilts from 90 kg body weight until breeding. Average daily gain of piglets will be used to represent a measure of sow milk production but milk samples will also be collected and the composition analyzed. The outcome will be recommendations to producers on feeding strategies for replacement gilts that achieve both excellent milk production and a reduced risk of lameness, increasing overall sow longevity. This project is part of a larger research initiative headed by Chantal Farmer and supported by Swine Innovation Porc.