Date Full Report Received10/13/2004
Date Abstract Report Received07/26/2006
InvestigationInstitution: University of Minnesota
Primary Investigator: G.C. Shurson, J.L. Johnston, J.P. Holt, Sam Baidoo
Funded ByNational Pork Board
Effects of a high-fiber diet and frequent feeding on behavior, reproductive performance, and nutrient digestibility in gestating sows.
J. Anim. Sci. 2006. 84:946-955
In this experiment, we attempted to employ a diet and feeding regimen that could be easily implemented in commercial production units while improving welfare as measured by occurrence of stereotypic behaviors and salivary cortisol and performance of sows. We chose soy hulls as our fiber source because they are readily available to U.S. pork producers at a reasonable price and diets containing high levels of soy hulls will flow readily through commercial feed delivery systems. Unfortunately, our approach did not improve welfare or performance of sows. We surmise two possible reasons for this lack of beneficial effects. First, the total quantity of feed offered to sows may have been too small to positively affect sow welfare. The quantities offered in our experiment are typical of feeding levels used in commercial pork production. This quantity of feed may be sufficient to satisfy the sows’ nutrient needs for acceptable reproductive performance but insufficient to satisfy her physical needs for acceptable welfare. In the future, there may be a feeding level for acceptable reproductive performance and a different feeding level for acceptable sow welfare. Second, while soy hulls are easy to acquire and use in commercial applications, they appear to lack the necessary chemical and(or) physical characteristics to improve sow welfare and performance.