Department of Animal Science Florida Agricultural
Mimeograph Series No. AN66-3 Experiment Station
September, 1965 Gainesville, Florida
THE EFFECT OF SUPPLEMENTING THE SOW LACTATION DIET
WITH FERROUS FUMARATE AS A PROPHYLAXIS FOR BABY PIG ANEMIA
R. G. Conness, H. D. Wallace and G. E. Combs -I
Several investigations have suggested that it is physiologically impossible to
effectively increase the iron concentration of the sow's milk for the purpose of pre-
venting anemia in the young pig (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). However, recent reports have
indicated that supplementing the sow's diet with ferrous fumarate has been effective
in the prophylaxis of baby pig anemia (8, 9, 10, II).
The purpose of this experiment was to determine if ferrous fumarate in the diet
of the lactating sow would be effective in preventing baby pig anemia. If so, it
was further desired to determine if such prevention was a reflection of an increase
in the iron concentration of the sow's milk or by direct assimilation of iron as a
result of fecal contamination of the premises by the sow.
Seventeen litters consisting of 120 pigs were farrowed in farrowing stalls with-
in a central house floored with concrete. The litters remained in these stalls for
approximately one week at which time they were moved to pens in the same house for
the duration of the trial. The trial was superimposed on a long range experiment to
study the nutritional effects of feeding distillers dried solubles to sows and their
progeny. Sows were therefore allotted to two dietary iron treatment groups accord-
ing to previous diet, parity and breed. The sow treatment groups (Table I) were as
1. Basal lactation diet.
2. Basal lactation diet plus 900 mg. of iron as ferrous fumarate per pound of
3. Basal lactation diet with 5 percent distillers dried solubles included.
4. Basal lactation diet with 5 percent distillers dried solubles included
plus 900 mg. of iron as ferrous fumarate per pound of feed.
The sow diets were fed beginning on the 110th day of gestation and continued
through the second week of lactation. The sows were individually fed in a feeding
area separate from the farrowing stalls. The farrowing stalls were kept as free of
fecal contamination as possible.
I/ Conness, Research Assistant; Wallace, Animal Nutritionist; and Comb$', a
Animal Nutritionist, Department of Animal Science, University of .F~irda. t
assistance of B. R. Cannon and L. S. Taylor, swine herdsmen, is gratefully ack
Table I. Composition of experimental diets fed lactating sows.
Ingredient (%) Basal Basal Basal Basal
+ + +
Ferrous Distillers Distillers
Fumarate Solubles Solubles
Ground yellow corn 64.74 73.74 61.74 60.74
Ground whole oats 10.00 10.00 10.00 10.00
Soybean oilmeal (50%). 20.30 20.30 18.30 18.30
Distillers dried solubles --- ---5.00 5.00
Ground limestone 0.75 0.75 1.00 1.00
Steamed bonemeal 1.00 1.00 0.75 0.75
Iodized salt 0.50 0.50 0.50 0.50
Trace minerals -/ 0.06 0.06 0.06 0.06
B-vitamin supplement 2/ 0.20 0.20 0.20 0.20
Vitamin A and D supplement / 2.00 2.00 2.00 2.00
Vitamin BI2 supplement 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10
Hygromix5 0.10 0.10 0.10 0.10
Ferrous fumarate premix 6/ -- .00 --- .00
Aureo S-P 250 1/ 0.25 0.25 0.25 0.25
100.00 100.00 100.00 100.00
I/ Calcium Carbonate Co. swine mix.
Adds the following to the diet (ppm):
ganese (35.5), iron (43.8), copper (3.0), cobalt (1.0), zinc (50.4) and potas-
2/ Contains 2000 mg. riboflavin, 4000 mg. pantothenic acid, 9000 mg. niacin and
10,000 mg. choline chloride per pound of supplement.
3/ Contains 14 gm. vitamin A supplement (10,000 IU/gm.), 4 gm. vitamin D supple-
ment (9,000 IU/gm.) and 890 gm. yellow corn meal.
4/ Contains a minimum of 9 mg. of vitamin 812 per pound of supplement.
5/ Elanco Co. Contains 8.0 gm. of Hygromycin-B per pound of supplement.
6/ Contains 19.4% elemental iron.
7/ American Cyanamid Co. Contains 4.4 percent sulfamethazine, 20 grams per pound
of chlortetracycline and 10 grams per pound of procaine penicillin.
Within twenty-four hours after the last pig in each litter was born, all pigs
were identified by ear notching. Initial weights and blood samples were taken at
the time of marking. Pigs were allotted to two treatment groups within litters ac-
cording to initial weight and initial hemoglobin level. One-half of the pigs in
each litter received an intramuscular injection of 23.3 mg. of iron at seven days of
age and again at nine days of age. The other half of the pigs in each litter served
as controls and did not receive iron injections.
Final two-week weights and hemoglobin determinations were obtained on each pig.
Results and Discussion
The overall results of this study are summarized in Table 2. Statistical anal-
ysis of the final hemoglobin values failed to show a significant difference due to
sow dietary treatment. There was, however, a slightly higher average hemoglobin
value in those litters from sows receiving the high level of ferrous fumarate. This
difference could be attributed to the assimilation of iron present in the feces of
those sows given the high iron treatment, since it was impossible under the experi-
mental conditions employed to completely eliminate fecal contamination.
Pig hemoglobin analysis showed a highly significant difference (P<.OI) in fa-
vor of those pigs receiving iron injections compared to those pigs not receiving
Although several pigs had low hemoglobin levels and exhibited symptoms of be-
ing slightly anemic, no fatalities could be attributed directly to anemia.
Weight gains of pigs from the iron-fed sows were greater but the difference
was not statistically significant. Likewise, the injected pigs gained more weight
but the difference was not statistically significant.
The diets containing the high levels of iron did not appear to be unpalatable
to the sows. Symptoms of gastric irritability or diarrhea were not observed.
The results of this study indicate that supplementation of the sow diet with
ferrous fumarate (900 mg. of elemental iron per pound of feed) did not effectively
increase the concentration of milk iron. Adequate hemoglobin levels were not main-
tained in suckling pigs when they were denied access to the feed and given limited
access to the feces of ferrous fumarate supplemented sows.
Two week hemoglobin levels of pigs receiving iron injections were significantly
(P<.01) above those not receiving injections.
Weight gains in the pigs at two weeks of age were not significantly affected
by either sow dietary treatment or iron injections.
Table 2. Effect of supplementing the sow lactation diet with ferrous fumarate on weight gains
and hemoglobin levels of suckling pigs.
Pig Data From Sows Fed Pig Data From Sows Not Fed
Ferrous Fumarate Ferrous Fumarate
Treatments Injected Not Injected Injected Not Injected
Number of pigs 35 33 26 26
Av. initial weight, Ibs. 3.45 3.47 3.33 3.31
Av. 2-week weight, Ibs. 8.12 7.88 8.31 8.19
Av. 2-week weight gain, Ibs. 4.64 (4.56)--' 4.47 4.95 (4.89)-/ 4.83
Av. initial hemoglobin, gm. % 10.09 10.09 10.47 10.19
Av. final hemoglobin, gm. % 8.06a (6.96)-L/ 5.80b 7.68a (6.49)./ 5.31b
I/ Mean values of all pigs from sows fed ferrous fumarate.
2/ Mean values of all pigs from sows not fed ferrous fumarate.
a,b Means with different superscript letters are significantly different (P<.01).
- 5 -
I. McGowan, J. P. and A. Crichton. 1923. On the effect of deficiency of iron in
the diet of pigs. Biochem. J. 17:204.
2. Doyle, L. P., F. P. Mathews and R. A. Whiting. 1928. Anemia in young pigs.
J. Am. Vet. Med. Assn. 72:491.
3. Hamilton, T. S., G. E. Hunt, H. H. Mitchell and W. E. Carroll. 1930. The pro-
duction and cure of nutritional anemia in suckling pigs. J. Agr. Res. 40:927.
4. Venn, J. A., R. A. McCance and E. M. Widdowson. 1947. Iron metabolism in pig-
let anemia. J. Comp. Path. and Therap. 57:314.
5. Pond, W. G., R. S. Lowrey, J. H. Maner and J. K. Loosli. 1961. Parenteral iron
administration to sows during gestation or lactation. J. Animal Sci. 20:747.
6. Miller, E. R., C. L. Zutaut, D. E. Ullrey, D. J. Ellis, R. W. Luecke and J. A.
Hoefer. 1963. Placental and mammary transfer of iron from iron chelates in
the sow's diet. J. Animal Sci. 22:841.
7. Miller, E. R., D. E. Ullrey, C. L. Zutaut, B. H. Vincent, D. J. Ellis, R. W.
Luecke and J. A. Hoefer. 1964. Supplementation of the sow lactation diet with
ferrous fumarate. J. Animal Sci. 23:884.
8. Chaney, C. H. and C. E. Barnhart. 1963. Effect of iron supplementation of sow
rations on the prevention of baby pig anemia. J. Nutrition 81:187.
9. Hansard, S. L., P. B. Brown, D. M. Thrasher and G. L. Robertson. 1963. Nutri-
tional studies in mineral metabolism. La. State Third Livestock Producer's Day.
10. Veum, T. L., W. G. Pond, L. D. VanVleck and J. K. Loosli. 1963. Effect of
ferrous fumarate on milk iron when added to the sow ration. Swine Mimeo. 63-1.
II. Harmon, B. G., A. H. Jensen and D. E. Becker. 1964. Oral iron supplementation
for sows during lactation. An. Sci. Mimeo. AS-602-H. University of Illinois.