Every detail counts: precision feeding and the profitable sow
As you know, the success of your swine business depends on the summation of numerous factors and paying attention to the details. When it comes to nutrition and feeding of sow herds, it is the same story. Highly prolific female genetic lines are pushing production standards higher, bringing new challenges to sow longevity and the quality of piglets at birth, and weaning. Ensuring nutrition is not limiting your breeding herd’s productivity while also keeping cost of production as low as possible and reducing any negative environmental impacts, is a tricky balancing act and every detail counts.
Capturing "Effective Energy"
Compared to growing pigs, sows have a greater digestive capacity. They benefit from a larger intestinal tract, especially the colon, and therefore have a greater capacity for fermentation. Sows are able to utilize feed ingredients more efficiently than growing pigs and particularly the dietary fibre fraction.
How can this improved digestibility capacity of the sow be utilized to your advantage as well as the environment? Trouw Nutrition/Shur-Gain has created an energy metric in our formulation program called the "Effective Energy" for sows. This energy value incorporates the increased digestibility of the fibrous fraction of each ingredient. In this system, proteins of animal origin as well as fats and oils which actually do not contain plant fiber are unaffected. However, all plant feedstuffs, and especially those high in fibre, have a greater potential to provide available energy to the sow. In practice, this new energy system for sows enables us to formulate sow diets at a lower cost by giving greater nutritional value to high fibre ingredients. With current feed prices this could translate in to $1.45/sow/year saving on feed cost, a small detail that counts.
Precision Feeding for Dry Sows
Often overlooked if not neglected, is the management of dry sow feeding and yet it represents about 70% of all the feed required by a breeding herd and therefore most of the feed bill and the largest environmental impact factor. Moreover, we know that underfeeding and, even worse, overfeeding can have deleterious effects on the subsequent reproductive cycles. With the goal of building precise feeding allowance recommendation for dry sows, we have developed a dry sow feeding model. This tool helps our Swine Nutrition Advisors and Swine Nutritionists to formulate tailor-made dry sow feeding programs based on the following inputs:
- Live weight (actual or estimate) and back-fat depth at weaning
- Gestation weight gain and fat depth at farrowing (these targets could be genetic line specific)
- Litter size and birth weight of piglets
- Dry sow housing (pens or crates)
- Room temperature
- The energy density of dry sow feed
- The feed management applied to your barn (reconditioning period in early gestation and timing of increase feed allowance at end of gestation)
This appears to be a lot of detail but it is necessary if we want to properly manage this vital stage of production with important economic, environmental and technical impacts. This approach has taken a number of years to develop and validate but in connection with our new "Effective Energy" system for sows we can fulfil our mission to provide technologies that will work for you in your commercial operation.
In the case of gestation overfeeding which is a common problem, applying our program can lead to improved lactation feed intake and a reduced annual sow feed cost. Sometimes, total feed required per sow per year is reduced by 40 kg. If underfeeding is the problem, then it is the quality of the litter at weaning which can be improved as well as the body condition of the sow. In some cases, we have observed an improved weaning weight of 0.5 kg/piglet. These details count for the profitability and sustainability of your swine business.