Increased feeding of sows during the insemination phase results in a higher piglet birthweight. This is one of the main conclusions of a study by Dutch breeding organisation Topigs at 19 Dutch pig farms with in total population of over 7,000 sows.
An extra 1 kg of feed intake during the insemination period resulted in a higher birth weight of 45 g. Interestingly, sows fed lactation feed during the insemination phase gave birth to piglets 51 g heavier than sows fed gestation feed.
This illustrates the importance of looking at the energy and protein content of the feed given during the insemination phase, as this seems to affect the birthweight of the piglets.
Influencing piglet birth weight
The research also found other factors that positively influence piglet birthweight:
•©more feed during gestation
•©higher energy intake during lactation
•©introduction of gilts via a quarantine
•©group housing of the sows
•©no use of prostaglandins at farrowing
•©a high farm hygiene level
Combining all positive factors, the average birth weight of piglets can in theory be increased by 442 g per piglet. These results show that there are many opportunities for improving piglet birthweight by taking appropriate management actions.