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Selected parameters in urine as indicators of milk production in lactating sows: A pilot study

Papadopoulos, G.A., Maes, D.G.D., Weyenberg, S. van, Verheyen, A., Janssens, G.P.J.
Veterinary journal 2008 v.177 no.1 pp. 104-109
sows, milk synthesis, animal performance, estimation, prediction, biomarkers, urine, potassium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, lactose, creatinine, lactation stage, diurnal variation, validity, reference standards
Although insufficient milk production in lactating sows may cause tremendous economic losses, reliable methods for estimating milk production in sows under field conditions are not available. This study aimed to investigate whether urine parameters could be used to predict milk production in sows. The milk production of 18 sows was determined during early and mid-lactation. Morning (a.m.) and afternoon (p.m.) urinary levels of potassium (K), sodium (Na), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), lactose and creatinine were analysed. The absolute concentrations, the ratios relative to creatinine, and the fractional excretions of all elements in urine were not significantly associated with milk production. The p.m./a.m. ratios of K, Na and Ca concentrations in urine (KR, NaR, and CaR) were significant predictors for milk production, but only during mid-lactation. The total variation in milk production (r2 value) explained by KR, NaR, CaR amounted to 72%, 55%, 42%, respectively. Analysis of minerals and especially K in the a.m. and p.m. urine of sows during mid-lactation provided an acceptable indication of milk production. Further research is necessary to investigate whether the present results can be used to estimate milk production in hypogalactic sows under field conditions.