Skip to main content


What’s important during this life stage?

  • Maximizing sow health through gestation and lactation: Sows transfer a significant amount of minerals to the fetus during pregnancy, meaning that the gestation and lactation periods are crucial times for the sow’s productivity and for her piglets’ viability.
  • Increasing piglet birthweights: Low birthweight is a major predisposing factor for pre-weaning mortality. The sow’s nutrition program plays a crucial role in increasing her piglets’ birthweight.  
  • Increasing the number of pigs per sow per year: Analyzing the number of pigs per sow per year is an important parameter that helps measure the sow’s productivity.

Common challenges:

  • Low birthweights: Large litters can sometimes contain smaller piglets. This leads to increased costs due to the extra care or treatments involved with maintaining piglet health.
  • Heat stress: Heat stress in sows can lead to reduced reproductive performance and reduced feed intakes, both of which can lead to decreased milk production and poor piglet growth.
  • Small litter sizes: Small litter sizes can be caused by several variables, such as fewer ovulated eggs, reduced fertilization and poor boar semen quality. Small litters can also be caused by inadequate nutrition during gestation, lactation and the wean-to-service interval.
  • Poor milk quality: Poor milk quality can often be attributed to inadequate nutrition, reduced water intake and high ambient temperatures.
  • Mycotoxins: The presence of mycotoxins in feedstuffs can greatly reduce production potential and overall sow health, if not properly addressed.
  • Sow mortality and poor retention rates: Poor fertility can lead to an increased need to cull younger animals, and poor body condition can lead to a higher attrition of older sows.

Tips for maximizing health and performance: 

  • Provide proper nutrition during the critical periods of breeding, gestation and lactation.
  • Improve feed quality, mineral status and sow immunity.
  • Provide adequate minerals. Studies have shown that providing a better mineral source can lower the number of small pigs without affecting the size of adequately sized pigs.
  • Maintain a quality nutrition program. This can help to provide a proper immune response to vaccination, resulting in improved herd health and colostral antibody production.