The Connection Between Sow Health and Colostrum Quality


The Connection Between Sow Health and Colostrum Quality

Colostrum from sows is essential to the future success of piglets. Over time, the pork industry has raised more prolific sows that produce more piglets. However, an increase in piglets born does not necessarily mean increased colostrum production to keep up with the demand.


Unfortunately, at least 30% of hyper prolific sows do not produce enough colostrum. They also have longer farrowing periods, which reduces colostrum yield1. Piglets need around 250 grams of colostrum for success, but that colostrum also needs to be of high quality.


The sow makes the same amount of colostrum whether she has 12 or 16 piglets. “We can’t help her increase quantity, but we can increase the quality shared among the litter by increasing the sow’s health,” shares Shelly Tiede, Senior Swine Nutritionist for Ralco Swine Nutrition.


“When it comes to sow health, what we need to be focusing on is giving that sow everything she needs to produce high quality colostrum,” explains Tiede. “If you look at body condition and you've got a really thin sow, she's most likely not going to produce high quality colostrum for her babies.”


Colostrum is Liquid Gold for Piglets

A sow’s body condition directly correlates to her overall health and ability to produce a healthy litter. This idea is especially true for antibodies and the ability to pass them on to piglets. Colostrum is an extremely rich source of antibodies (immunoglobulins) essential for the piglet’s defense against disease.


Be sure that your sows are up to date on all vaccinations so that they can produce those antibodies to pass on through the colostrum supply.


The higher the quality of early colostrum, the higher chance of a piglet’s overall success. When farrowing, sows only produce colostrum for about 24 hours. In the same 24-hour period for a newborn piglet, their gut mechanism starts evolving and they quickly lose the ability to absorb the antibodies.


Healthy Sow = Healthy Colostrum

Ralco takes pride in creating products and services that help increase the overall health of your swine herd. If you can improve sow health and build up their immune system, they will have healthier piglets in return.


One of those products is Regano EX®, a natural feed additive containing patented Microfused® oregano and thyme white essential oils as well as prebiotics.


In an experiment conducted at the University of Minnesota (Ariza-Nieto, 2005), researchers compared the performance of sows fed Regano during gestation and lactation versus those fed a control diet. Researchers tested the immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels in the colostrum and serum of the sows and piglets before suckling and 24 hours after.


The results? Sows fed Regano EX showed 21% higher IgG’s in their colostrum. While there was no difference in IgG level in the piglets pre-suckling, there was an increase in IgG post-suckling due to the increase in the colostrum. Other notable findings were an increase of gammadelta cells by 30% and natural killer cells by 28%, both important immune cells.


Build a custom recommendation for your farm using essential oils, prebiotics and nutrition to help improve the health of your sows and piglets today!