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Better Sowing With The Right Minerals

- Aug 01, 2018 -

Better sowing with the right minerals

When it comes to providing minerals to pigs, time has long ceased to exist. Sows have different needs depending on their parity, size and litter size. Providing the right amount will enhance the performance of the sow and also benefit her piglets.

Minerals are important for maintaining the body and ensuring animal performance. In breeding sows, certain minerals are required for successful conception and delivery. Chromium is needed to produce insulin, which affects the production of progesterone and affects follicle stimulation and luteinizing hormone. Both hormones are necessary for regulating ovulation and have a direct impact on fertility and litter size. Progesterone production requires manganese, and further hormonal activity requires iron and chromium, which affects embryo survival during pregnancy. Uterine capacity determines the number of piglets born and requires appropriate levels of selenium, iron and chromium feeding.

Breeding animals have a higher mineral requirement because they must produce eggs that are strong enough to achieve conception, provide minerals for well-developed fetuses for proper development, and in the case of mammals, produce milk to feed young cubs. Therefore, breeding sows often lack mineral intake, especially when tissue reserves are exhausted.


The level and type of minerals used in sow diets are also important to ensure their reproductive performance. Photo: Hans Prinsen

Sows produce big nests

Modern porcine genetics has created sows that can produce higher litters, heavier piglets and lower offspring mortality. Nutrition has to change to keep up with the sow's reproductive capacity. Comments on feeding trials suggest that actual requirements may be much higher than those recommended by the National Research Council (NRC, 1998 and 2012) 

Even in the relatively short period of time before the 1998 NRC recommendations were issued, the British Animal Science Society reviewed the mineral data in 2003 and the next NRC recommendations in 2012, the demand level also increased significantly. This is especially evident for minerals that are involved in antioxidants, such as zinc, copper and selenium, which are important in high performance animals, which have increased oxidative damage due to the production of free radicals from higher metabolic functions.

Proper provision of antioxidants through feed is important to protect cell membranes, especially in fragile, rapidly replicating cells such as eggs and embryos. Other studies have investigated the sow's requirements for subsequent parity. The report said that compared with the first child, the weight of iron, zinc and copper in the sow weighing 240 kg increased by 16%, the manganese increased by 14%, and the body weight was 240 kg. . The dam weighs 160 kilograms.

Other mineral studies have shown that the number of births has an effect on the hemoglobin concentration in the blood of the sow, which is related to the iron loss over time. Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin and is essential for the efficient absorption of oxygen into red blood cells and delivery to tissues and organs. These low hemoglobin levels are reflected in the nests of these sow piglets, which may be detrimental to their health and growth performance. In addition, sows need to be effectively transported around the body to prevent fatigue, such as during childbirth.

It is clear that the diet must be replaced at an affordable price to replace the nutrients lost after each litter and to ensure that the sow always has sufficient levels of minerals in the tissue reserve to meet the needs of the next pregnancy. The average number of litters per litter in sows fed the commercial organic mineral product, Bioplex, increased by 0.5, and the birth weight exceeded 1 kg based on test responses in 19 different countries.

Organic minerals

Minerals can be provided in inorganic form (as oxides or sulfates) or as chelated "organic" minerals that combine with small proteins, more in a manner similar to the way minerals naturally occur in feed. Organic minerals have been shown to be selectively ingested from the gut of animals and have better tissue storage. Feeding organic forms of selenium (Sel-Plex) to sows increased liver selenium levels by 21% compared to feeding inorganic sodium selenite. In sows, feeding organic forms of iron has been shown to increase iron transfer through the placenta to developing piglets. This leads to an increase in body weight and an increase in milk intake at birth.

Figure 1 – Haemoglobin concentration in sow’s blood.


In addition, sows with higher iron status to produce more vigorous piglets have higher colostrum and milk yield in response to stronger lactation behavior. Feeding trials using chelated iron products in sow diets in 1998 showed that piglets gained 10% of body weight and gained 6.5% or more during weaning, at this age, “light” (<5.5 kg) Piglets were reduced by 8%. In reviewing the effects of this iron supplement on the weight of piglets from six different countries, a 2004 study showed that piglets receiving organic minerals always had higher weaning weight than inorganic mineral controlled diets. Feeding the 'bioplex sow' combination mineral product, the milk weight was continuously increased in the 10 births studied, and the average weaning weight increased from 6.9 kg to 7.4 kg.

Inorganic and organic minerals are provided for sows to levels recommended by NRC (1998) or industry standards, increasing the litter size by 0.4 and 1.5, respectively. Five Canadian farm trials, treating 10,000 sows per diet, showed that the litter rate for feeding this combined mineral product increased by 1.8%, and the production per sow increased by 0.3 litres per litter. More than 3 heads. The non-production period was shortened by nearly 9 days, and sow phase-out was reduced by 2%. In this case, zinc, copper and manganese are important for hoof strength.

The level and type of minerals used in sow diets are important not only for the health and longevity of the sow, but also for ensuring the reproductive performance of the sow and ensuring the delivery of healthy piglets. Modern varieties have higher requirements than standard NRC (1998) levels, and both control and commercial tests show the benefits of using organic forms of minerals rather than traditional inorganic sources. The organic form is better absorbed from the gut and stored in the tissue, making it more bioavailable to the sow. Reassessing the mineral needs of sows and replacing inorganic forms with chelated organic forms can increase the number of successes, reduce elimination and increase the number of litters per litter and weaning weight, which contribute to animal health and welfare and farm profitability. .

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