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Feed transition between gestation and lactation is exhibited earlier in sows fed a high-fiber diet during gestation

Guillemet, R., Guérin, C., Richard, F., Dourmad, J.Y., Meunier-Salaün, M.C.
Journal of animal science 2010 v.88 no.8 pp. 2637-2647
sows, sow feeding, pregnancy, lactation, maternal nutrition, feed intake, feeding preferences, high fiber diet, dietary fiber, adaptation, postpartum period, metabolizable energy, energy intake, feeding behavior, diurnal variation, body weight, backfat, thickness, piglets, birth weight, weaning weight, weight loss, farrowing
The underconsumption of feed frequently observed in young sows during lactation can result from an adaptation problem of the sow to the new feeding management in terms of diet composition and feeding amount. Our study aimed to investigate how the sow manages her own feed transition when given the choice between the gestation diet and the lactation diet from moving into the farrowing crate (12 d before farrowing) until the second week postpartum. The effect of adding dietary fiber to the gestation diet on this transition was also evaluated. During gestation, 16 primiparous sows (Large White x Landrace) were fed 2.4 kg/d of a control (CON) diet (3.5% of crude fiber), or 2.9 kg/d of a high-fiber (HF) diet (12.8% of crude fiber). The daily allowance of NE was 24 MJ in both treatments. Twelve days before the expected parturition day (d -12), sows were moved into farrowing crates that were equipped with a computerized feeding device allowing the gestation and lactation diets to be supplied via 2 rewarded push buttons placed above the trough, until d 14 postpartum. The feeding transition was evaluated through the daily ratio of ingestion of the lactation diet. Feeding behavior was measured through daily feed and energy intakes, number of daily meals, meal size, and the nycthemeral distribution of feeding activity. Sows were weighed and backfat thickness was measured at the beginning and end of gestation and lactation. Piglets were weighed every week from birth until weaning. The transition to the lactation diet occurred earlier in HF sows (P < 0.05); the 50% threshold of lactation diet ingestion was reached on d -8 and 12 in HF and CON sows, respectively. Dietary treatment did not affect the feeding pattern, and all sows presented a diurnal feeding activity. During lactation, there was an interaction (P < 0.05) between the hour of the day and the dietary treatment for the distribution of pushes on the rewarded buttons, with pushes being more spread out throughout the day in CON sows compared with HF sows. Variations in sow backfat thickness were not affected by dietary treatment, but HF sows lost more BW during lactation (P < 0.05). Growth of piglets was not affected by dietary treatment. In conclusion, sows chose the lactation diet spontaneously on the week preceding parturition when they were fed a fibrous diet during gestation. This highlights the possible impact of such a gestation diet to promote early intake of the lactation diet.