Date of this Version
Gestation sows are well suited to utilize high-fiber, low-density diets. They utilize fiber better than growing pigs and during gestation have a high feed intake capacity relative to their energy requirement. When research results from several studies were pooled and weighted according to the number of litters produced, sows fed additional fiber during gestation farrowed and weaned more pigs/litter than sows fed control diets. Feeding fiber during gestation also improved lactation feed intake, but reduced sow weight gain during pregnancy and pig birth weight. Sows fed fibrous diets also exhibit less stereotypic behavior (i.e., bar-biting), which may be an indication of improved welfare. It is likely there are several factors influencing the response to extra fiber in the sow diet, but it appears the amount of neutral detergent fiber consumed and the source of fiber are important. The metabolizable energy content of fibrous feed ingredients for sows is greater than that for growing pigs. There are limitations to feeding high-fiber diets related to the physical nature of fibrous feed ingredients and the greater volume of manure produced. Potential opportunities exist for pork producers to lower gestation sow feeding costs and/or improve sow reproductive performance by using fibrous feed ingredients during gestation.