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Source: Purina Animal Nutrition news release

Sow longevity was the focus of the Feeding for 30 Forum at World Pork Expo on June 4. During the third annual forum, hosted by Purina Animal Nutrition, DSM Nutritional Products and Zinpro Corporation, producers and industry representatives discussed the importance of a balanced herd parity structure, gilt development, nutrition and feeding, and management for achieving greater sow longevity and 30 pigs per sow per year (psy).

"Most of our genetics in the U.S. have the potential to produce 30 psy, but yet there's a small number of producers that are able to achieve that level," said Dan Moran, director of marketing-swine for Purina Animal Nutrition and emcee of the Feeding for 30 Forum. "We have the genetic potential; what's holding us back is nutritional attention and animal husbandry. That's really what our forum and information are about: creating discussion and providing additional information to take advantage of that genetic potential."

Each year, the Feeding for 30 partners share research and facilitate discussion with producers on a topic that relates to sow productivity. This year's focus was sow longevity - a production component that Moran says is essential in achieving 30 psy.

"Most industry would say it's not until after the third parity that you start receiving a return on your investment," he said. "To achieve that profitability in the third, fourth, fifth parity and beyond, it's going to take extra nutritional management."

At the forum, the Feeding for 30 panel of industry members and producers first shared industry research and experiences on sow longevity. The forum was then opened to questions from the audience. The panel was comprised of three industry representatives involved with sow nutrition and management and one producer nearing 30 psy.

Brenda de Rodas, Ph.D., director of swine research for Purina Animal Nutrition: De Rodas shared firsthand research experience from her 15 years with Purina Animal Nutrition and her role at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo, including a 6-year study measuring feed intake according to parity.

"In our research, we found that parity 1, or the gilts, have the lowest feed intake (1-1.5 pound per day less consumption than older parities)," she said, explaining that all sows at the center are fed ad libitum diets in lactation. "We need to take care of our gilts and parity 1 sows especially. We know that they consume less feed, so we need to make sure those gilts receive the amount of nutrients they require for complete development. Providing the correct nutrients can help them care for a healthy first litter and stay a longer period of time in the sow herd."

Zach Rambo, Ph.D., swine nutritionist for Zinpro Corporation: Rambo highlighted the economical downfalls of early culling from the herd, explaining that 15 percent of sows are culled due to lameness.

"We see a lot of parity 1 and parity 2 sows produce less than 20 pigs per sow lifetime because they are falling out of the herd early," he said. "This is significant because we haven't reached the point where they've paid for themselves. Focus on reducing lameness and improving feed intake during lactation; if you can take care of those two things, you can help mitigate a lot of problems."

Jon Bergstrom, Ph.D., senior technical support manager-swine for DSM Nutritional Products: Bergstrom shared research that compared birthweights and litter sizes to parity number, explaining that larger litter sizes are required to achieve 30 psy.

"As parity number increases, you see an increase in litter size and an increase in the mean birthweight," he said. "Even though you're having larger litters with those parity 3, 4 and 5 sows, you're also having heavier average individual birthweights when compared with gilts. If we're going to target 30 psy, we have to have more females staying in the herd and reaching that third, fourth and fifth parity where they're going to produce more pigs, heavier birthweights and, ultimately, wean more pigs."

Jay Gruber, production manager for Northwind Pork/Co-Alliance: Gruber offered a producer perspective from three sow farms he manages in northwest Indiana. The three faciltiies are 1,300-head to 2,500-head sow facilities, with a total of 5,500 sows managed by 25 employees. He credits sow nutrition as a key to keeping sows in the herd longer.

"We have ad libitum feeders at two sow farms in lactation," he said, explaining that sows are offered ad libitum feed starting two days post-farrowing. "When we installed the ad libitum feeders, we saw a slight decrease in lactation disappearance. Piglets are bigger and sows are milking better, because they're getting more feed in them and wasting a whole lot less. On top of that, the calmness in the barns is much higher, because sows have feed at all times."

Swine producers, veterinarians and nutritionists can learn more about the Feeding for 30 program and access nutritional resources by visiting or To sign-up for monthly e-management tips, visit

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