New standards in sow feeding: Efficiency for environment, animal and economy

In piglet production, the performance of sows sows has been clearly increasing over the past years. At the same time, piglet losses are decreasing. Consideration of the biological performance and thus of the economy will continue to be of decisive importance for a farm's success. In addition, increasing massive requests relating to animal welfare and environmental policy that need to be observed by farmers have cropped up in the public discussion.

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However, do all these different aspects really contradict each other? Are there positive synergies in the field of feeding? The most important task of animal feed is to supply the sow with everything it needs and thus to ensure its performance and longevity. An inadequate supply will go at the expense of the animal's health and wellbeing - an excess supply will lead to an increased excretion of nutrients into the enviroment.

Feeding to the point

The new OlymPig complete feed range OlymPig complete feed range for sows from AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG is all about efficient "feeding to the point". Sow feed often contains an excess of protein. The animals' metabolism can be clearly disburdened if this abundant safety margin is reduced to the actual energy requirement. Furthermore, the sow requires less metabolic energy and thus energy from the feed for the decomposition of unusable protein and for the excretion of nitrogen via the urine.

A side effect is the reduced contamination of the stable air with ammonia and a decreasing nitrogen content in the liquid manure. The new balancing values for nutrient excretions of farm animals (DLG brochure) will be effective with the coming into force of the new Fertilisation Ordinance VO. Thanks to the use of the new sow feed from the OlymPig standard range, the criteria of the severely N- and P-reduced feed will be met. At least five percent 5% nitrogen and ten percent 10% phosphor can be saved.

Addition of synthetic amino acids

Modern sow feed contains more and higher concentrations of essential amino acids. Apart from ensuring the performance, these also have a functional effect on the health status. A great portion of the protecting mucuous layer of the intestinal wall for instance consists of the amino acid threonine. A lack increases the permeability for harmful bacteria. Threonine is also required for the creation of immunoglobulins. Especially during the last days of pregnancy, it is thus possible to support the formation of antibodies in the colostrum. Adding synthetic amino acids and simultaneously lowering the protein content is one possibility of combining economic and environmentally relevant aspects with resource protection.

The correct composition of the fibre is important

The influence of fibre components in the feeding of sows is not to be underestimated. Consideration of the percentage raw fibre content alone is hardly meaningful and the fixation on certain components of the raw ingredients not constructive. The entire scope of fibres, i.e. all fractions known as "dietary fibres" in human nutrition, must be assessed. The digestive tract is reliant on a certain portion of undigestible fibres. Functions such as swelling properties and saturation, or the speed at which fibres pass the intestines are just as important as the portion of bacterially fermentable substance. The correct composition of the fibre considerably contributes towards the animals' wellbeing. Through the decomposition of such fibres, enterobacteria are able to form short-chained fatty acids. These fatty acids supply energy and have an anti-bacterial effect against salmonella, coliform bacteria and further pathogenic germs in the intestines. A more detailed consideration of the fibre composition in sow feed is another important element of the new complete feed range.

Optimisation of sow feed varieties according to net energy

The sow has an energy requirement. The assessment of sow feed in terms of energy is in Germany usually based on megajoule metabolisable energy (MJ ME). In doing so, the gross energy from the feed is set off against the remaining energy in faecal matter and urine. If the energy loss via body heat is deducted, this results in the net energy (MJ NE). Depending on feed composition, more or less heat that remains unused is generated during digestion. By calculating the net energy, the farm obtains more accurate information as to the feed's actual energy value. Under net energy aspects, the excellence of individual raw ingredients changes. Together with certain energy savings on account of the reduction of proteins as well as energy gains through fibre fermentation in the large intestine, noticeable differences to the metabolisable energy used until now can result. Optimisation of sow feed varieties according to net energy brings one much closer to the sow's actual energy requirement.

Needs based supply

The newly devised sow feed range is in line with a needs based supply of high yielding sows under economic aspects. At the same time, the focus is on maintaining the health and longevity of the animals. Ideally, advantages for animal well being and the environment result from this concept, providing the use of the sow feed with multiple benefits.

At a glance: New sow feed concept

  • Reduced protein content disburdens the sow's metabolism
  • Addition of amino acids for performance and maintaining a good health
  • Optimisation with regard to indigestible and fermentable fibre
  • Conception of the sow feed according to net energy
  • Addition of plant matter increases the formation of colostrum and milk
  • Meets the criteria of severely N- and P-reduced feeding

Further information on this concept can be obtained from Alexandra Grimm, product manageress pork at AGRAVIS Raiffeisen AG, Tel. 0251 . 682-2286.