The energy source fed to sows during late gestation can effects on neonatal growth performance

The energy source fed to sows during late gestation can effects on neonatal growth performance. The example of energy sources that can be fed to sows are wheat barley and oats. The high fibre content in oats and barley are best to be fed to sows in gestation period if the price is economical. One of the effects of energy source fed to sows during late gestation on neonatal growth performance is it can reduce cold stress that can lead to healthy growth performance. Cold stress is a very crucial condition that occurs when the body can no longer maintain its normal temperature. Younger pigs tend to suffer during the cooler times of the year. Younger pigs are sensitive to environmental stress because of the failure of their body to thermo regulate properly. It can be really problematic if the sows farrow during winter as the piglets will be exposed to a low temperature. The cold stress can happen due to few reasons. Piglets at birth have poor body thermo regulator, lack energy reserve, lacks hair coat and have a large surface area to body weight ratio which makes them prone to cold stress. Cold stress can result in harmful effects such as slower growth in piglets, poor feed efficiency, loss of body fat, greater susceptibility to diseases such as pneumonia, higher mortality and can lead to tail biting between pigs. Cold stress can be reduced by feeding sows during late gestation with feed that contains high energy source. The high energy source can increase feed efficiency where the energy will be absorbed by the foetus. When the energy is deposited in the body, it will become fat if it is not metabolised. Therefore, if the foetus has fat deposited in the body, it can help to keep the body warm when it comes out from the uterus. Piglets can utilise body fat reserves while gaining stability in regulating body temperature. So, when the piglets contain sufficient body fat reserves, this can decrease the risk of cold stress. When the piglets do not suffer cold stress, the growth rate can increase as there will be no problem in feed efficiency for the piglets. Piglets will have a good appetite to consume milk from the sow. This can lead to increment in weaning weight of the piglets. In conclusion, it is very important that sows at late gestation to be fed with high energy source feed to improve neonatal growth performance.