A collaborative study was conducted to evaluate factors related to determining optimal feeding and management programs for increasing net returns from marketing cull sows. A total of 269 multiparous sows averaging 192 kg of body weight were weaned, moved to individual gestation crates, and assigned to one of eight treatment combinations in a 2 x 2 x 2 factorial arrangement for a 42-d postweaning feeding experiment. Factors included limited (L) (1.8 kg/sow/d) or ad libitum (AL) access to feed during wk 1 postweaning, a corn-soybean meal (corn) or barley-sunflower meal (barley) diet, and pregnant or nonpregnant status. All sows were provided ad libitum access to feed from wk 2 to 6 postweaning. Gain and feed intake (FI) data were collected weekly for each sow and used to calculate gain:feed (G/F). Ultrasonic backfat (BF) data were collected on d 0, 21, and 42 postweaning. Sows on the AL treatment had greater FI (P < 0.05) but similar gain (P = 0.80) for the 42-d postweaning period compared to sows on the L treatment. Most of this response was due to lower sow body weight loss during wk 1 postweaning (P < 0.01) when sows were provided AL (-7.2 kg) vs L (-13.2 kg) access to feed. Sows fed the corn diet had higher gain (P < 0.01), improved G/F (P < 0.01), and increased BF (P < 0.01) over the 42-d feeding period than sows fed barley. The corn diet resulted in less sow BW loss (P < 0.01) during wk 1 (-8.8 kg) than the barley diet (-11.6 kg). Pregnant sows had higher gain, FI, G/ F, and BF (P < 0.01) than nonpregnant sows over the 42-d feeding period. Most of this advantage occurred during wk 4 postweaning when FI and gain of nonpregnant sows was lower (P < 0.01) than for pregnant sows. An economic analysis indicated that, when cull sow prices are relatively high and feed prices are moderate to low, maintaining and managing cull sows for an additional 6 wk postweaning may be economically advantageous compared to O or 3 wk. Pregnant sows fed the corn diet produced the greatest economic return. These results suggest that mating sows as they return to estrus postweaning and providing ad libitum access to a corn-soybean meal diet improves growth performance and feed efficiency, and may thereby provide increased returns when marketing cull sows.
- Feed Intake
- Postweaning Interval