Feeding sows more during the insemination phase results in a higher piglet birth weight. That is one of the main conclusions of a study by pig breeding group TOPIGS.

The study was conducted at 19 Dutch pig farms with a total population of more than 7,000 sows. One extra kilogram of feed intake during the insemination period resulted in a birth weight that was 45 grams higher, on average.

Sows fed lactation feed during the insemination phase give birth to piglets 51 grams heavier than sows fed gestation feed. According to TOPIGS, this illustrates the importance of looking at the energy and protein content of the feed given during the insemination phase.

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The research also found other factors that positively influence piglet birth weight:

  • more feed during gestation
  • higher energy intake during lactation
  • introduction of gilts via a quarantine
  • group housing of the sows
  • no use of prostaglandins at farrowing
  • a high farm hygiene level

Combining all positive factors, the average birth weight of piglets can, in theory, increase by 442 grams per piglet, TOPIGS reported.