Nutritional strategies to cope with reduced litter weight gain and total tract digestibility in lactating sows
Morazán Nuñez, Henris Jobany
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Twelve lactating sows were used to evaluate the effects of reducing dietary crude protein (CP) (14% vs. 12%) and increasing neutral detergent fibre (NDF) levels (18% vs. 22%) on litter performance, total tract apparent digestibility and manure composition in a 4 9 4 latin square arrangement during a 36-day lactation period. Diets were isoenergetic (2.9 Mcal ME/kg) and had similar total lysine content (0.9%). In addition, a second aim was to compare a reference external marker method (Cr2O3) with an internal feed marker [acid-insoluble ash (AIA)] for the calculation of apparent total tract digestibility of nutrients in lactating sows. The reduction of dietary CP level in lactating sows had no effect on either live-weight or backfat thickness or apparent total tract digestibility of nutrients. However, the piglets’ average daily gain (ADG) was reduced in low dietary CP diets, which suggests that sows reduced milk production due to an underestimation of certain essential amino acid requirements (e.g. valine). The increase of dietary NDF level did not affect sow and litter performance. Nevertheless, the total tract apparent digestibility of organic matter, CP and carbohydrates was reduced, and ether extract digestion was increased in high NDF compared to normal NDF diets equally balanced for ME and lysine content. The coefficients of total tract apparent digestibility of nutrients in lactating sows were greater when using AIA compared to Cr2O3 marker, regardless of dietary CP or NDF level, but their coefficients of variation were lower in the former than in the latter. In lactating sows, a trade-off between litter performance and nutrient digestion is established when reducing dietary CP or increasing NDF levels while maintaining similar lysine content through synthetic amino acids and balancing metabolizable energy through dietary fat sources.