Precision feeding in gestating sows reduces environmental losses and feeding costs

FRANCE— In research findings published in Animal Feed Science and Technology Journal, precision feeding in gestating sows, which tailors feed supply to individual nutrient requirements, reduces protein intake, environmental losses and feeding costs.

Gestating sows are often fed with the same standard diet during their gestation even though their nutrient requirements vary during gestation and among sows.

In all cases, this group feeding strategy leads to protein and minerals under- or over-feeding situations.

This may result in a lack of performance and health issues on the one hand, and economic loss and negative environmental effects on the other, report the authors of the research.

New feeding strategies have been developed in pig production to reduce environmental load and feed costs relative to sows fed a conventional single diet (CF).

Combined with improved nutritional models, smart feeders are now able to offer a daily amino acid (AA)-adjusted ration to each animal regarding its nutrient requirements.

This study is aimed to compare the effect of this precision feeding (PF) strategy on productive and reproductive performances of gestating sows compared to the CF strategy.

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The second objective of the study is to report the effects of such a strategy on sows’ feeding behavior. Defined as frequency of visits and time spent in the feeder.

The experiment included 131 gestating sows divided into the two feeding strategies regarding their parity and body weight at insemination.

Automatic feeders allow the identification of the sow entering the feeder and the recording of the time of each visit to the feeder, as well as the quantity of feed delivered during the visit.

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They found that there was no significant effect of the feeding strategy or the gestation period on the number of feeding visits.

Conversely, there was a tendency for the feeding strategy to affect the daily time spent at the feeder for feeding visits regarding the gestation period.

PF sows slightly increased their time spent for feeding visits during the gestation, while it stayed relatively constant for the CF sows.

Feed supply was similar for the two strategies. The results matched those from simulations as sows fed the PF strategy reduced their lysine ingestion of around 25%.

This subsequently reduced nitrogen excretion by 18.5%, and feed costs by 3.4 euros per gestation.

Phosphorus intake and excretion were also reduced with PF compared to CF (around 8% and 9%, respectively).

Reproductive performance, defined as the number of piglets per litter and the litter weight, was not affected by the feeding strategy.

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