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Top producing sows need extra fibre


Changes in pig genetics and increased litter sizes requires a different kind of feed. In feed production, it is possible to see a focus shifting to the inclusion of fibres and fermentative digestion.


BY KEES VAN DOOREN, REPORTER BOERDERIJ S


ows on most pig farms usually only have a thin layer of back fat left these days. That particularly holds true for Danish sows, which even look a bit like body builders. A downside to that development is that


these animals do not have a tremendous amount of energy reserves to fall back on in case of a shortage of energy. Espe- cially in a time when litter sizes are growing, however, the sows are in need of stable energy levels. Increasingly, feed producers are therefore searching for an- swers in an adjustment of feed composition. Recently, fibre content in sow rations has been receiving more attention, and the practice is well-established now.


Production of fibre-rich feed Soy hulls or beet pulp are known sources of soluble fibre, di- gesting easily in the large intestine. During production of feeds that should get these fibre-rich components, the pro- cessing of raw materials is being adjusted in order to allow fi- bres to be digested where intended: in the sows’ large intes- tine. In the gut, bacteria are key, as they cause the fibres to digest via fermentation, a process that takes time, slowing down digestion speed. It gradually releases volatile fatty ac- ids, forming a source of energy for sows. This ensures that a sow has enough energy to produce during the day and when more pressure is put on her during farrowing and with a large litter to feed.


Speeding up the farrowing process Feed rich in fibre is known to have more advantages, of which farrowing speed is an important one. That is related to ma- nure composition. If that remains smooth due to the feed’s fi- brous content, the risk of constipation is much lower. With feed supply maintained at good levels, sows will have more energy during the farrowing process and the piglets are born


An important thought behind fibre rich feed is that piglets are born faster, and milk starts flowing more quickly.


▶ GUT HEALTH | DECEMBER 2020


67


PHOTO: RUUD PLOEG


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