by Jason Lackey, Lackey Livestock
As we begin putting sows in crates, every producer is always hopeful for the same thing — a big, healthy litter. During this time, many will inquire about the differences in nutrition and if it is necessary or important to switch sow feed from a gestation to lactation ration when those sows are moved in. YES.
Gestation and lactation feed both provide the basic nutrition that your sow needs to maintain her working condition. However, the lactation ration provides a few more advantages that help with allowing your litters to thrive and grow well. Increased energy and fiber in a lactation diet are key. Typically, producers will increase a sow’s volume up to 8 lbs. additional feed per day when they are nursing a litter. With the added stress of pregnancy, giving birth and then the body’s requirements needed to effectively lactate, the added energy allows sows to maintain their body condition and produce more milk during this time. Additional fiber also gives sows a nutritional advantage. Once a sow has her litter, the quicker she can start to digest and excrete feed like normal, the quicker she will start to consume more and milk more heavily.
BioZyme, Inc. has additional tools to ensure success in the farrowing house. Vita Charge® Paste (transitioned to Vita Charge® Gel July 2019) is a must. We feed 10 mL of this once per day until the day the sow farrows and continue doing so until she gets back on feed regularly. Another option would be to use Vita Charge Liquid Boost through a medicator. This helps spark appetite and ultimately increases energy more quickly. Digest More is also a phenomenal tool and has been quite the secret until now. It is a pelleted form of Amaferm that can be added into your sow ration. Those who have used Digest More are raving about sows milking better and pigs weaning bigger and fatter than ever before.
When considering costs of a gestation ration or additional supplements for your sows, always remember that these costs are minimal when comparing them in relation to the opportunity costs of a litter.