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Department of Animal Science Florida Agricultural
Research Report No. AL-1974-8 Experiment Station
July, 1974 Gainesville, Florida
ALFALFA MEAL AS A SPECIAL BULKY INGREDIENT IN TE
SOW DIET AT FARROWING AND DURING LACTATION'
H. D. Wallace, D. D. Thieu and G. E. Combs2/
Alfalfa meal.has several well known nutritional virtues. It is a fairly
good source of quality protein. It is relatively rich in minerals, especially
calcium. If fresh, leafy and green it is an excellent source of carotene,
vitamins E and K, and most of the B-complex vitamins; if suncured it is a good
source of vitamin D. The product has also been reputed to contain unidentified
nutritional factors. However, alfalfa meal is not nutritionally indispensable
and in Florida and parts of the Southeast availability and cost usually restrict
its use as a routine ingredient in the sow ration.
The study reported here was undertaken to explore the possibility that
alfalfa meal may, due to its bulky nature and nutritional value, provide special
protection against MMA and thereby improve sow farrowing and lactation performance.
Feeding and management of the sows and care of the piglets were similar to
the procedures described in a previous report (1). Composition of the diets is
presented in Table 1. The experimental feeding period was initiated approxi-
mately three days prior to farrowing and continued through two weeks of lactation
at which time the pigs were weaned.
Results and Discussion
A summary of the three individual farrowings for the two feeding groups is
summarized in Table 2. In general sow performance was quite good and no marked
differences were evident due to inclusion of 15% alfalfa meal in the diet.
An overall summary of the combined farrowings for each feeding group is
presented in Table 3. Sow performance data revealed no statistically significant
differences. Percent survival of pigs from birth to weaning was slightly better
for sows fed alfalfa meal (86.6 vs. 88.8). This difference accounted for a
!/ Data summarized in this report were taken from swine unit experiment No. 215-A.
2/ Wallace and Combs, Animal Nutritionists; and Thieu, graduate assistant, Depart-
ment of Animal Science.
This public document was promulgated at an annual cQst of .
$81.60 or .08 cents per copy to inform county agricul-
tural directors, ranchers and growers of research results .-
in swine management and nutrition.
Department of Animal Science
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
- 2 -
slightly larger litter size at weaning for the alfalfa-fed sows (9.57 vs. 9.77).
Average weights of individual pigs at weaning were very similar for litters
from the two sow groups (8.57 vs. 8.53).
There was a higher incidence of MMA in the control sows (21 vs. 13). This
difference was highly significant (P < .01). However, none of the cases were
severe and for the most part were limited to vaginal discharge, temporary rise
in body temperature, refusal to eat for a day or so or temporary udder congestion.
These differences as measured did not seem to be reflected in sow performance
differences through two weeks of lactation. If the alfalfa meal was helpful
relative to the MMA syndrome it certainly was not totally effective.
A study, involving a total of 72 litters farrowed over a six month period,
was conducted to determine the influence of adding 15% alfalfa meal to the diet
three days before farrowing and during a 2 week lactation period on sow perfor-
Mild cases of MMA were observed in both control and alfalfa-fed sows. The
incidence was significantly lower in sows fed alfalfa. However, this reduced
incidence was not reflected in a significant improvement in sow performance.
Number of pigs weaned per litter, weight of pigs at weaning and percent survival
to weaning for control and treated sows respectively were: (9.57 vs. 9.77),
(8.57 vs. 8.53) and (86.6 vs. 88.8).
Table 1. Composition of Diets!/
Control Diet Diet
Yellow corn meal 58.55 49.00
Ground whole oats 20.00 20.00
Alfalfa meal (20%) 15.00
Soybean meal 18.00 13.00
Bio-Phos (IMCC) 1.50 1.45
Limestone 1.30 0.90
Iodized salt 0.50 0.50
Trace minerals (CCC)2/ 0.10 0.10
Vitamin premix (UF)-/ 0.05 0.05
1/ The two diets were formulated to contain similar amounts
of protein, calcium and phosphorus but were not iso-
caloric. The alfalfa meal diet was lower in total
energy and higher in fiber.
2/ Contained 20% zinc, 107. iron, 5.5% manganese, 1.1%
copper, 0.15% iodine, 0.1% cobalt and 2% calcium.
3/ Contained 6,000 mg riboflavin, 20,000 mg niacin, 12,000
mg pantothenic acid, 80,000 mg choline chloride, 10,000
mcg vitamin B 2, 2,500,000 I.U. vitamin A, 400,000 ICU
vitamin D3 and 10,000 I.U. vitamin E per lb. of premix.
Table 2. Reproductive Performance of Sows as Influenced By Inclusion of
Alfalfa Meal in the Farrowing and Lactating Diet
Av. No. Av. No. Av. No. Av. Av. wt.
No. Av. No. Av. birth pigs born resorbing pigs weaning change
Farrowing of of live wt. of dead fetuses weaned survival wt. per per sow
period sows pigs per litter pigs, lb. per litter per litter per litter to weaning pig, lb. lb.
Dec. 1972 8 11.38 3.12 0.13 1.00 10.50 92.3 9.16 -77.3
Feb. 1973 14 11.86 2.93 0.29 0.36 9.36 78.9 8.19 -52.6
Apr. 1973 15 10.13 3.06 0.33 0.53 9.27 91.4 8.57 -53.2
Dec. 1972 10 10.10 3.29 0.40 0.80 9.40 93.1 8.96 -62.8
Feb. 1973 11 12.64 2.70 0.18 0.36 10.72 84.9 7.75 -67.4
Apr. 1973 14 10.36 3.24 0.36 0.64 9.29 89.7 8.92 -73.4
Table 3. Summary of Sow Reproductive Performance
as Influenced by the Inclusion of Alfalfa
Meal in the Farrowing and Lactation Diet
Control Alfalfa Meal
Number of litters
Av. litter number (sow maturity)
Av. number of live pigs per litter at birth
Av. wt. per pig at birth, lb.
Av. number of resorbing fetuses at
birth per litter
Av. number of term pigs born dead
Av. body temp. (Fo) of sows at
Av. body temp. (Fo) of sows 24 hr.
Incidence of MMA (total number of sows
Av. number pigs weaned per litter
at 2 wks.
Av. wt. per pig at 2 wks., lb.
% survival of pigs to 2 wks. of age
Av. sow wt. change (3 days prefarrow to
2 wks. post farrow)
1. Wallace, H. D., D. D. Thieu and G. E. Combs. 1974. Sow farrowing
and lactation performance as influenced by diet fortification with
aureomycin, penicillin and sulfamethazine. Fla. An. Sci. Research
Report No. AL-1974-6.