January 06, 2022

Interpretive Summary: Reproductive performance and longevity in energy restricted gilts

Interpretive Summary: Reproductive performance and longevity in energy restricted gilts

By: Anne Kamiya, MS

Longer reproductive lives are highly sought after in sows because it increases the profitability of commercial farms. Sows that reach their fourth parity and produce large litters are highly desired. Ways to efficiently produce reproductively sound sows is therefore an important area of research interest. In this recent Journal of Animal Science study, researchers evaluated how nutritional factors influenced the reproductive performance and longevity of two genetically different populations of gilts.  

A total of 660 gilts from two different genetic lines were followed through four parities. Starting from 123 days of age, gilts were fed either a normal diet (ad libitum) or a restricted energy intake diet (75% of ad libitum intake). Gilts were then followed over four parities for their reproductive performance and longevity. Results indicated that the restricted energy diet had no impact on parities or litter traits. There was however a noted interaction with weight and backfat thickness at farrowing, weaning and lactation based on diet. Significant differences in parity in this study were only observed between genetic lines, but not affected by the restricted dietary energy intake in this study.

Overall, the results of this study suggest that a restricted energy intake diet to 75% of ad libitum feed does not have any negative impacts on the reproductive performance, longevity, or parity (up to parity four) of gilts. Reduction of energy intake could potentially reduce the need for unnecessary feed thereby also increasing profitability. More studies investigating what the ideal reduced energy intake diet is for sows and including various other genetic lines is warranted. 

The original article, Effects of restricting energy during the gilt development period on growth and reproduction of lines differing in lean growth rate: responses in reproductive performance and longevity, is viewable in the Journal of Animal Science.