Pig Sow colostrum quality and progeny performance the focus of NPD at Devenish
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Sow colostrum quality and progeny performance the focus of NPD at Devenish

Author Jane Byrne, publish date Monday. January 21st, 2019

Sow colostrum quality and progeny performance the focus of NPD at Devenish

Trials on a Devenish product for sows are now underway on commercial farms in the UK and Denmark.

Photo © GettyImages

The company launched its ColfaPig product at EuroTier last month. It is a mix of encapsulated short and medium chain fatty acids.

The Belfast, Northern Ireland headquartered producer said the product has shown benefits in terms of colostrum quality, and subsequent piglet performance.

During the five years of R&D on the product that preceded the launch, Devenish ran numerous trials with sow units, but only the island of Ireland, Dr Joanna Keenan, pig research officer at Devenish, told us.

“In terms of the size of the cohort in those trials [in Ireland], they ranged from units with 250 sows to units with 1000 sows.”​

Trials of the product have only just kicked off in the UK and Denmark, she said. Agromek, the agricultural trade show, which ran at the end of November, proved a good launch pad for ColfaPig, added Keenan. “A lot of Danish farmers showed an interest in testing the product. When farmers are happy with what they see, they look to put the product in [their feeding system] on a routine basis then.”​

Post-farrowing vitality   ​

ColfaPig is a product for sows that leads to better progeny performance, she said.

“I​t is doing that through having a positive impact on the colostrum.” ​ ​

The literature shows that the more colostrum piglets ingest leads to an improved lifetime performance and a reduction in mortality, she said.

A challenge post-farrowing though, with the increasingly larger litters from today’s hyper-prolific sows, is enough access to teats so the progeny to ingest the colostrum.

“It is really important that personnel in the farrowing rooms ensure all piglets get a chance to suckle to get the colostrum,”​ she stressed.

The results of trials done so far show that there is a 5% improvement in viability arising out the piglets ingesting colostrum from ColfaPig fed sows post-farrowing, said Keenan.

The fatty acid product delivers a 500g increase in piglet weaning weight, stretching to 800g by 10 weeks of age, according to the findings of the farm trials.

Mode of action ​

ColfaPig increases the levels of immunoglobulins in the colostrum, which are antibodies, explained Keenan.

“Analysis of the colostrum of sows fed the product showed an 11% increase in IgG, 16% in IgA and 29% increase in IgM, which means the immunological​ status of the piglets is improved. The piglets become more resistant and are able to fight off infections from bacteria and viruses due to this better immunity.”​

The company also saw that fat levels increased by 30% in the colostrum of sows fed the fatty acid product.

“We collaborated with universities and research institutes and we applied advance analytical science techniques to delve a bit deeper, to understand exactly why there was this higher fat content. We used this approach called proteomics, which is basically a measure of the expression of proteins.”​

The proteomics based analysis showed that the higher fat levels in the sow's colostrum were due to a decrease in milk fat globule membrane proteins, she explained. These proteins break the membrane and reduce the amount of fat in milk. As milk fat globule membrane proteins were decreased, the colostrum was fattier than normal, with the benefits of extra energy being passed to the piglet, said Keenan.


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