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Nutritional strategies for the sow to cope with an increase in litter size

Mullan, B.P., King, R.H. and Kim, J.C. (2009) Nutritional strategies for the sow to cope with an increase in litter size. In: Manipulating Pig Production XII. Proceedings of the 12th Australasian Pig Science Association (APSA) Biennial Conference, 22 - 25 November, Werribee, Australia pp. 157-167.

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Increasing the number of pigs sold per sow per year is a key component of profitability in commercial pig production. Assuming that we can make significant increases in the number of piglets born alive through genetic selection and improved reproductive technologies, the real challenge is to then rear all of these without any detrimental effect on the sow. We also can't afford to be just interested in piglet survival, because we know that what happens pre-weaning has a large influence on performance thereafter, which in turn can have a big impact on cost of production and hence profitability. The weight of the piglet at birth and the quality of the piglet at weaning are thus important considerations, and strategies involved in maximising survival may not be the same as those required to also optimise piglet quality or long-term performance.

If the sow has the same number of functional teats as there are piglets born alive, then it is theoretically possible for the sow to rear all of those piglets through to weaning. However, some form of artificial rearing of piglets will be necessary as part of any overall strategy because of the likelihood of there not being sufficient lactation capacity available at all times.

It is also difficult to consider nutritional strategies in isolation from other husbandry and management issues. For example, only small gains can be made in increasing nutrient intake during lactation by changing the nutrient content of the diet if there is a limitation on feed intake related to environmental factors. Therefore attention to detail in all areas is required if we are to fully capitalise on the genetic gains that are possible, and many of these come under the banner of management. The aim of this paper is to consider those factors, from a nutritional perspective, that are important if we are to benefit from the increased number of piglets to be born through improvements in genetic and reproductive technologies.

Publication Type: Conference Paper
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Australasian Pig Science Association
Copyright: © 2009 Australasian Pig Science Association (Inc)
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