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Addition of Fibre Provides Balance in Diets of Developing Gilts

Bruce Cochrane

16 Feb 2024

Dr. Lee-Anne Huber discusses the value of adding fibre to the diets of gestating gilts.

00:00 / 02:50

Farmscape for February 16, 2024

A multi-institutional team of scientists has shown the inclusion of fibre in the diets of developing gilts helps provide the nutritional balance that will avoid over conditioning without hindering the development of mammary tissues.

Research aimed at improving the mammary development of gilts, conducted as part of Swine Cluster 3, is highlighted in Swine Innovation Porc's 2022-2023 annual report.

Dr. Lee-Anne Huber, an associate professor specializing in swine nutrition, in the Department of Animal Biosciences at the University of Guelph, says we know that piglet growth is directly related to milk production and milk production is driven by mammary development so the goal was to find nutritional strategies to maximise mammary development.

Quote-Dr. Lee-Anne Huber-University of Guelph:

The first phase of mammary development occurs between 90 days of age and puberty.

How we feed the gilts will influence their mammary development and their lifetime potential for milk production.

On one hand we want to have those gilts growing quickly and supplying enough nutrients for that growth but if they grow too fast during the development period, that will lead to feet and leg problems later on in the reproductive herd and possibly early culling.

On the other hand, if we restrict feed to slow down growth of the animals, we've shown that mammary development is also reduced and also subsequent milk production.

We're trying to balance between having the gilts grow but not too fast but not restrict them too much.

Since gilts are typically housed in groups in the gilt development unit and they have ad libitum access to feed in the first place, it's extremely difficult to try and restrict their growth by restricting the amount of feed that is supplied.

Fibre is an attractive approach because it increases gut fill, it makes you feel full.

That's why we eat high fibre diets when we're trying to lose weight, and reduces caloric intake while animals are still offered feed ad libitum.

Dr. Huber says providing a high fibre diet was effective in controlling body size and body fatness at the time of breeding and mammary development was not negatively affected.

For more visit Farmscape.Ca.

Bruce Cochrane.

       *Farmscape is produced on behalf of North America’s pork producers

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