Sow productivity is a key factor in modern pork production and directly affects a pork producer’s ability to meet their production goals. The two principle components of sow productivity are litter size and non-productive days, which is impacted by farrowing rate, between other productive parameters.
Over the years, genetic selection in the swine industry has improved sow reproductive performance but has also increased litter sizes from where they were decades ago. Studies show that sows are often unable to provide a sufficient amount of nutrients to fetal and mammary growth during gestation, as measured by piglet weights at birth.
Low-weight piglets are a big challenge for the pork production industry. Generally, low-weight piglets have a higher mortality rate, are more susceptible to diarrhea and have weaker immune responses than higher-weight piglets.
Performance Trace Minerals Improve Swine Reproduction and Gilt Retention
It is well known that supplementing gestation and lactation sow diets with Availa Sow improves sow performance. Zinc, manganese and copper play an essential role in sows’ metabolic function, which leads to reductions in claw lesions, and improvements in reproductive rates and litter quality.
Considering the metabolic roles of chromium, Zinpro conducted a study at Minas Gerais State in Brazil, supplementing gestation and lactation diets with Availa-Sow and Availa® Cr to evaluate possible additional results for including Availa-Cr associated with Availa-Sow in sows’ gestation and lactation diets. The study consisted of 291 gilts and sows on a commercial sow farm. Treatment diets were fed from one lactation through the next gestation and lactation period, a full reproductive cycle.
Gilts and sows were categorized by parity (first parity and second parity to sixth parities) and were equally spread out across three diets that were formulated to contain the same level of total supplemented trace minerals.
- Control Diet: 50 ppm of zinc, 20 ppm of manganese and 10 ppm of copper as sulfates.
- Availa-Sow: 50 ppm of zinc, 20 ppm of manganese and 10 ppm of copper from Availa-Sow.
- Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr: 50 ppm of zinc, 20 ppm of manganese and 10 ppm of copper from Availa-Sow and 0.4 ppm of chromium from Availa-Cr.
Improved Farrowing and Gilt Retention Rates with Performance Trace Minerals
The results of the research study revealed an 11% increase in the farrowing rate of sows fed Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr compared to the other diets.
The major increase with Availa-Cr in the diet is likely attributed to chromium’s role in enhancing the effects of insulin. Chromium affects follicular development through the effect of insulin on the LH and FSH secretions, which increases ovulation rates. Utero secretory proteins, such as uteroferrin and retinol-binding proteins that promote embryo survival also may be influenced by chromium.
Gilts supplemented with Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr boasted an 81.25% gilt retention rate. This is an 18% advantage over the other diets. This may be because chromium increased the gilts’ ability to develop an improved immune system.
Non-Productive Days Reduced with Performance Trace Minerals
Availa-Sow and Availa Sow/Availa-Cr significantly reduced the number of non-productive days compared to the control diet and numerically increased the number of piglets born alive for those sows and gilts. The supplementation of Availa-Sow resulted in a 14% reduction in non-productive days compared to the control diet. When supplemented Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr, however, a 21% reduction of non-productive days was observed compared to the control diet. The number of piglets born alive was 4% greater when the sows were fed Availa Sow compared to the control diet. But, when the Sows were fed Availa Sow/Availa Cr diet, the number of piglets born alive was 9% greater than the control diet and still 5% greater than the diet with Availa-Sow.
Availa-Sow and Availa-Cr Produce Heavier Litters and Heavier Piglets
Availa-Sow and Availa-Cr also significantly improved the number of piglets weaned, as well as piglet farrowing weights and weaning weights. Although the study showed an improvement in these parameters with Availa-Sow, it is clear that also including Availa-Cr leads to an even greater improvement. These effects can be justified due to chromium’s role in increasing glucose utilization for fetuses. Sows supplemented with Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr had 12.63 piglets weaned on average, an 8% increase over the control diet and a 4% increase over those supplemented with only Availa-Sow.
Sows supplemented with Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr produced heavier litters and heavier piglets at weaning. Litters born from sows supplemented with Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr were 16% heavier on average than piglets born from sows fed the control diet and 6% heavier than those supplemented with only Availa-Sow.
Litter weaning weights for piglets born from sows supplemented with Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr were 12% higher than from sows supplemented with the control diet and 10% higher than those from sows supplemented with Availa-Sow alone.
Of all piglets weighing 1.61 kg (3.55 pounds) or more at birth, 49% were from sows fed Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr, while 34% percent were fed Availa-Sow alone and only 17% were from sows fed the control diet supplemented for inorganic sources. Supplementation with inorganic sources of zinc, manganese and copper, as have traditionally been used, promotes smaller and weaker piglets in a greater percentage.
Feeding Availa-Sow/Availa-Cr Yields 8:1 ROI
Supplementing gestating and lactating gilts and sows with Availa-Sow plus Availa-Cr boast a return on investment of over 8:1 and can increase revenue by $44.60 per sow, per year over the control diet. For a sow farm with 1,000 head of sow, this is equal to about $44,600 per year in increased earning opportunities.
By supplementing your sows’ diets with Availa® Sow and Availa® Cr, swine producers can improve swine reproduction and piglet performance which, in turn, improves their revenues and bottom line. To learn more about feed Availa Sow and Availa-Cr in your sow nutrition program, contact your Zinpro representative today.