As long as the pigs are healthy and weaning, it’s easy to forget that how we feed sows during lactation can impact their next reproductive cycle as well.
Feed intake is a vital part of milk production and keeping a sow in ideal body condition. The goal is to ensure she’s getting enough feed so she doesn’t lose body condition to milk production, which can impact her current litter and her potential to breed back.
Energy is essential for sow success, but studies have shown that different energy sources can affect reproductive health differently. Diet composition also plays a critical role in how well sows can breed back after lactation. Composition can also have an impact on long-term performance.
What diet composition means for the next litter
There are two primary ways to add energy to swine diets: through fat or starch. Supplemental fat sources are very energy dense. Adding supplemental fat to lactating sow diets can certainly increase the caloric density of the diet and help to maintain sow body condition. However, it doesn’t have any direct effect on the reproductive hormones of the sow.
In contrast, starch energy in corn has been shown to lead to a higher estrus cycle in sows. Sows on a starch energy source diet tend to breed back immediately, produce more ovulated eggs and have better embryo survivability. These improvements make it worthwhile to utilize technologies such as crystalline amino acids and enzymes in the lactating sow diet, resulting in a greater corn inclusion rate and more energy from starch.
One of the best ways to get the right balance for your sow diets is to work with a nutritionist to create a diet that works for your farm. EnMAX® Nutrition is Ralco’s solution for developing net energy diets that can help you ensure that none of your nutritional budget is wasted. These diets help sows reach production goals and focus energy on lactation. The nutritional program maximizes productive days and increases sow longevity.
How Ralco can help save more piglets
Once piglets are born, try Ralco's fast-acting natural oral drench that gets baby pigs up and eating quickly by stimulating appetite and supporting a healthy immune function.