Interpretive Summary: Piglet birth weight increases, and litter size decreases, with compensatory feeding of sows
By: Anne Kamiya, MS
High backfat is not a desired trait in finisher pigs. Backfat thickness can vary depending on the season when piglets are born. Sows with high weight loss after summer lactation, for instance, yield smaller pigs with higher backfat thickness at harvest. In this article recently published in the Journal of Animal Science, researchers hypothesized that compensatory feeding of sows with high lactational weight loss during gestation would increase piglet birthweight and therefore reduce backfat thickness at harvest.
Over 140 sows categorized as having either low lactational weight loss (LLStd) or high lactational weight loss (HLStd) were fed a standard gestational diet or a compensatory gestational diet for the first 30 days of gestation. The HLStd sows fed the compensatory gestational diet had increased weight gain, increased piglet birth weight and smaller litter size. The authors speculated that their progeny should be leaner with lower backfat thickness at harvest however these parameters were not evaluated in this study.
Overall, the results of this study suggest that compensatory feeding of HLStd sows is probably a good way to reduce the likelihood of lower birth weight piglets which are prone to high backfat thickness at harvest. More comprehensive studies evaluating the health, weight, growth and backfat thickness of pigs born to HLStd sows with compensatory feeding from birth to harvest is justified.
The original article, Compensatory feeding during early gestation for sows with a high weight loss after a summer lactation increased piglet birth weight but reduced litter size, will soon be viewable in the Journal of Animal Science.