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New Pork CRC manual on feeding group housed pregnant sows

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article image Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell, launches the ‘Feeding Pregnant Sows in Group Housing Systems’ manual at the 2013 Victorian Pig Fair

Pork CRC  has recently launched a manual on the feeding of group housed pregnant sows.
 
Recognising that pregnant sows are increasingly being managed in group housing systems, the CRC for High Integrity Australian Pork (Pork CRC) produced the manual ‘Feeding Pregnant Sows in Group Housing Systems’ with input from and in conjunction with Australian Pork Limited (APL).
 
The manual was launched by Pork CRC CEO, Dr Roger Campbell at the 2013 Victorian Pig Fair in Bendigo.
 
According to Dr Campbell, the manual incorporates a lot of information from earlier Pork CRC research. Solid evidence is now available to confirm that increasing feed intake of gestating sows in early pregnancy can increase reproduction and that by increasing feed, less dominant sows get adequate nutrition, which is very important with highly competitive group housed sows.
 
Conversely, Pork CRC research showed increasing feed in late gestation, even for sows with big litters had little or no effect.
 
The manual can be viewed on the Pork CRC website and hard copies will be mailed to Australian pork producers.
 
Pork CRC supported research by Pieter Langendijk and Rebecca Athorn showed that higher feeding levels in early gestation tended to reduce circulating progesterone levels, but there was adequate supply from the ovaries to maintain pregnancy.
 
Dr Campbell explains that the breakthrough came from some very intensive and innovative R&D and has been validated commercially. Their research and other R&D suggest higher feeding levels in early pregnancy may improve subsequent reproduction.
 
These results have particular relevance to group housed sows where aggression after mixing can result in the more submissive animals not receiving adequate feed, adversely affecting litter size, according to research by Paul Hemsworth and his group at the University of Melbourne’s Animal Welfare Science Centre.
 
The launch of the sow feeding manual followed successful sow housing solutions workshops at Toowoomba, Queensland and Melbourne, Victoria in October 2012 where producers who had transitioned from stall to group housing revealed factors identified as crucial to success, including ensuring sows had adequate space, reducing aggression and stress in the period immediately after mixing, ensuring sows had adequate nutrition in the first two to four weeks after mixing  and, above all, good stockmanship, appropriate supervision and smart management.
 
According to Dr Campbell, these factors are clearly interrelated and are being investigated in more detail in current Pork CRC projects.

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