Lignocellulose helps to shorten farrowing time

More than three minutes – that is the gain in time piglets were observed to have in Austria during a smooth birth process. The three minutes of being born quicker means three minutes less struggle and getting access to colostrum and oxygen three minutes earlier. Now, how to get there?


conse- quences, with the most obvious one be-

ing long exposure to pain and a stress- ful period for both the sows and the pig-

lets. Furthermore, a prolonged farrowing time BY STEFAN HIRTENLEHNER AND CHRISTINE POTTHAST, AGROMED, AUSTRIA R 22

ecent genetic progress achieved in sows poses a ma- jor challenge to management. Many hurdles need to be overcome to make modern pig production as effi- cient and profitable as possible. Regarding piglet

rearing, there is a rule of thumb that seems quite plausible at first glance: more piglets means more profit. Therefore, the breeding goal is to have as many piglets per litter as possible. However, on-farm, increased litter size is often accompanied by low piglet birth weights and increased piglet mortality. Consequently, the pig producer should not aim to have as many newborn piglets as possible, but rather to raise as many robust, viable and competitive weaners as possible.

An underestimated factor of success Exploiting the full genetic potential and producing large lit- ters of live-born piglets is still possible if enough resources are given to management and if proper, well-balanced sow nutrition is guaranteed. Large litters are closely related to prolonged farrowing dura- tion. A long parturition time carries the risk of many negative

▶PIG PROGRESS | Volume 36, No. 3, 2020

increases the proportion of stillborn piglets. According to Professor Peter Kappel Theil of Aarhus University, Denmark, extending a birthing period by 100 minutes means the loss of two piglets or more. The longer the struggle to pass through the birth canal, the more the piglet is exhausted and disad- vantaged compared to highly vital piglets. Those highly ac- tive piglets will find the mother’s teats earlier and profit from early feeding which, in turn, beneficially influences gut growth and gut development. Farrowing duration can affect colostrum yield and therefore is directly linked to an optimal supply to the newborn piglets of energy and immunoglobu- lins (Ig). Just three hours after birth, the permeability of the piglet gut for Ig is already reduced to 50%. Furthermore, a prolonged farrowing time correlates with re- duced fertility of sows due to prolonged placenta expulsion. Management of the farrowing time can influence all of these consequences to a certain extent.

Inclusion of standardised fibre products Supplementing sow diets with dietary fibre offers the oppor- tunity to reduce the farrowing time via a nutritional tool. The success of dietary fibre inclusion depends mainly on proper selection of the fibre source. In contrast to many convention- al fibre sources, such as wheat bran and sugar beet pulp, which vary in quality and availability over the season and bear the risk of mycotoxin contamination, it is advantageous

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