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The effect of moderate energy and protein restriction during gilt development on changes in body weight and backfat depth and subsequent lactation performance

Nicole Gregory, Chantal Farmer, Robert M Friendship, Lee-Anne Huber


Eighty-eight gilts [initial body weight (BW) 49.8 ± 0.8 kg] were recruited to determine the effects of moderate energy and protein restriction during the development period on changes in BW and backfat depth (BF) and subsequent lactation performance. Gilts were randomly assigned to one of four feeding programs: 1) standard commercial diet fed ad libitum (CON), 2) standard commercial diet fed 10% or 3) 20% below ad libitum, or 4) a high–fiber diet fed ad libitum [2.5 times more fiber (neutral detergent fiber) than the commercial diet to dilute net energy and crude protein by approximately 20% and 13%, respectively; FIB]. The gilts were housed individually and received the feeding programs between 90 and 190 (breeding) d of age and standard gestation and lactation diets thereafter. Litters were standardized to 12 ± 1 pigs within 48 h of farrowing; weaning occurred at 20.0 ± 0.4 d of age. Gilts that received the 20% restricted program had lower overall average daily feed intake (ADFI) during the development period (2.64 ± 0.04 kg; P < 0.05) versus all other feeding programs and gilts that received the 10% restricted program had lower ADFI than FIB and CON, which were not different (2.96 vs. 3.44 and 3.47 ± 0.04 kg for 10%, FIB and CON, respectively; P < 0.05). Plasma free fatty acid (FFA) concentrations on day 180 of age were lower for gilts that received the 10% and 20% restricted programs compared to gilts that received the FIB and CON programs, which were not different (97 and 86 vs. 220 and 149 ± 29 µEq/L, respectively; P < 0.05). Plasma concentrations of glucose, urea, prolactin, and IGF-1 were not different among feeding programs on day 180 of age. At breeding, gilts that received the FIB and 10% programs had lower BW and BF versus CON (145.7 and 144.8 vs. 155.2 ± 0.9 kg and 14.4 and 14.8 vs. 16.5 ± 0.2 mm for BW and BF, respectively; P < 0.05) but greater BW than gilts that received the 20% restricted program (137.9 kg; P < 0.05). The BW and BF of gilts did not differ at the end of gestation or at weaning. The ADFI of sows during lactation and offspring birth weight and growth rate during lactation and the 5-wk nursery period were not influenced by gilt development feeding program. Therefore, a high-fiber feeding program could be used in group-housing gilt-development scenarios, where feed is offered ad libitum, to control BW and BF prior to breeding without influencing milk production in the subsequent lactation period.

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