Development of evidence-based feeding strategies for lactating sows using novel and evolving feeding technologies - Ontario Pork - Active Research

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Active Research

Ontario Pork has a call for research proposals once a year. These projects were approved for funding by the board on recommendation of the research committee. If you have questions or need further information about the research posted here please contact Jessica Fox at

Active Research

Development of evidence-based feeding strategies for lactating sows using novel and evolving feeding technologies

Project 20-002 - Dr. Lee-Anne Huber, University of Guelph

Computerized feeding technologies are becoming mainstream and are being implemented by Ontario pork producers. These technologies reduce the labour required to deliver feed to pigs and facilitate data collection, while also providing the opportunity to closely match estimated (daily) nutrient requirements by blending diets that have high and low nutrient densities. For sows, this is a very powerful tool, as nutrient requirements change considerably throughout the reproductive cycle. During lactation, sows are often not capable of increasing feed intake to meet the nutrient demands of milk production. First parity sows are limited by their physical gut capacity and are especially vulnerable as lactation length and milk yield increase. If feed intake is reduced during lactation for any reason, the sow must turn to her own body reserves to support milk production. If the sow loses too much body weight, milk production (piglet growth) will be reduced and may stop altogether. The sow will then have poorer reproductive performance in the next breeding cycle (increased weaning-to-service interval; reduced litter size).

Precision feeding during times when the lactating sow has the greatest nutrient requirements and/or lowest feed intake could address these challenges. Despite all the apparent benefits of precision feeding in lactation, practical data is scarce. Dr. Lee-Anne and team intend to “test improvements” in lactating sow feeding programs and technologies in order to support producers as they consider installing precision feeding technologies for (lactating) sows on-farm. Results will also be applicable for producers using batch farrowing systems and conventional feed-delivery equipment.

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