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Interpretive Summary: Hybrid rye may replace up to 75% of the corn in diets for gestating and lactating sows without negatively impacting sow and piglet performance 

By: Dr. Emily Taylor

Historically, rye has not been used in swine diets due to ergot contamination and high concentrations of antinutritional factors. However, new hybrid varieties offer a reduction in ergot contamination and antinutritional factors. Recent research has compared hybrid rye to barley, wheat, and soybean meal when fed to sows; however, no data compares it to corn diets. Therefore, researchers hypothesized that hybrid rye could replace part of corn in the diet of gestating and lactating sows without negatively affecting sow and litter performance.  

Hybrid rye was added to diets at 25%, 50%, or 75% of corn. Bodyweight, ADG, and the number of pigs born were not significantly different among diets; however, as hybrid rye increased, the number of pigs, litter weaning weight, and litter ADG decreased. As hybrid rye increased, pig mortality and the number of crushed pigs tended to be reduced. Blood samples were taken to observe serum cytokines and interleukin-4, -10, and -18. While cytokines were not different, interleukin increased on day 13 and then decreased as hybrid rye inclusion increased in the diets. No differences in milk composition were seen, except for MUN, which increased as hybrid rye was included in the diet. 

In conclusion, replacing 25% or 50% of corn with hybrid rye improved lactation performance, however, replacing 75% of corn with hybrid rye did not positively or negatively affect performance. In addition, researchers suggest further research should be focused on determining the effects of hybrid rye on butyrate synthesis, intestinal health, and milk production.

This article available in the Journal of Animal Science.