The objective of this study was to investigate whether nursing a large number of piglets has negative effects on lactation and postweaning performance of primiparous sows and whether a greater lactation feed intake can prevent possible negative effects. Data were recorded on 268 ad libitum-fed sows of three genotypes (G1, G2, and G3) in an experiment where litter size was standardized to 8, 11, or 14 piglets during a 4-wk lactation. Compared to G1 and G2, G3 sows were heavier (P <0.05) and leaner (P <0.05) at weaning of their litters, lost similar amounts of BW and backfat, and their piglets grew faster (P <0.05). Compared to G1, feed intake during lactation was higher for G3 sows (P <0.05), and their risk of a prolonged weaning-to-estrus interval was lower (P <0.01). Daily feed intake by sows was not affected by litter size in G1 and G3, but it was quadratically affected in G2 (P <0.05), with a maximum at 10.8 piglets. Backfat loss of the sows increased linearly with litter size (P <0.05) in G1 and G3. In G2, backfat loss increased only at litter sizes > 9.8 piglets (P <0.01). Body weight loss of the sow and litter weight gain increased linearly with litter size (P <0.001). Per extra piglet nursed, sows had a 23% (P <0.01) higher probability of a prolonged weaning-to-estrus interval. A higher daily feed intake during lactation reduced tissue loss of the sow, increased litter weight gain (P <0.01), and reduced the probability of a prolonged weaning-to-estrus interval (by 42% per extra kilogram; P <0.01). Sows with a lower daily body weight loss during first lactation had a larger second litter (1.28 piglets/kg; P <0.01), and their probability of a prolonged weaning-to-estrus interval was reduced by 61% per kilogram (P <0.001). With increasing litter size, it is therefore recommended to reduce body weight loss during lactation by stimulating daily feed intake and by genetic selection.
|Journal||Journal of Animal Science|
|Publication status||Published - 2003|
- efficient lean growth
- to-estrus interval
- 1st-litter sows
- commercial farms
- body condition