Effects of a high-fiber diet and frequent feeding on behavior, reproductive performance, and nutrient digestibility in gestating sows

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Abstract

A study was conducted to determine the effects of feeding a corn-soybean meal (control) diet vs. a corn-soybean meal-40% soybean hulls (high fiber) diet, as well as the frequency of feeding (once vs. twice daily), on the welfare and performance of gestating sows. Two hundred thirty-nine mixed-parity sows were assigned to a 2 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments. Sows fed once daily received their entire meal at 0730, whereas sows fed twice daily received one-half of their feed allotment at 0730 and the other half at 1430. The behavior of 68 focal sows (≥16 sows per treatment combination) was observed on d 1 postweaning, and on d 40 and d 80 of gestation. The percentage of time standing, lying, sitting, feeding, inactive, and performing stereotypic behaviors was determined. Saliva samples were collected to determine cortisol concentrations. Sow BW and backfat depth were determined on d 0, 40, and 80 of gestation, within 24 h of farrowing, and at weaning. An energy and nitrogen digestibility study was conducted using 36 sows assigned to each of the 4 treatment combinations. Over a 24-h period, the sows fed the high-fiber diet spent less time lying (P < 0.05) than the sows fed the control diet. The frequency of feeding did not affect sow behavior measured over a 24-h period. During mealtimes, sows fed the high-fiber diet spent more time feeding (P < 0.05) than sows fed the control diet. Feeding the high-fiber diet did not affect stereotypic behavior measured over 24 h or during mealtimes. Neither diet nor feeding frequency affected salivary cortisol concentration. Sows fed the high-fiber diet gained less BW and lost backfat (P < 0.05) during gestation compared with sows fed the control diet, whereas sows fed once daily gained less BW and lost backfat (P < 0.05) compared with sows fed twice daily. Sows fed the high-fiber diet had fewer pigs born (P < 0.05) compared with sows fed the control diet. Feeding frequency had no effect on size or weight gain of litters. Sows fed the high-fiber diet exhibited lower digestibility of DM, energy, and N (P < 0.05) compared with sows fed the control diet. Feeding a high-fiber diet utilizing soybean hulls or increasing feeding frequency did not enhance the welfare of sows by reducing stereotypic behaviors nor did it improve reproductive performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)946-955
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume84
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2006

Keywords

  • Feeding frequency
  • Fiber
  • Gestation
  • Sow
  • Stereotypic behavior
  • Welfare

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