FEEDING BROOD SOWS
KENNETH L. DURRANCE
Assistant Animal Husbandman
Good feeding practices are especially important for the brood
sow while she is pregnant and while she is nursing her young.
The weight and vigor of new-born pigs and their size at weaning
and market time will depend to a large extent on how the sow is
fed during gestation and lactation. In addition, the reproductive
ability of brood sows is much influenced by how they are fed from
weaning up to the time of the first breeding.
Feeding During Gestation.-Feed an adequate, well-balanced
ration to keep the sow in a thrifty, vigorous condition. But she
should not become overly fat; too much fat means trouble at
farrowing, a hazard that should be closely guarded against.
Green pasture will do a lot to keep the pregnant sow vigorous
and healthy, because of the protein, vitamins and minerals such
forage furnishes. The exercise she gets on pasture will help
keep her in top physical condition.
A guide suitable for feeding gilts and sows is 2 to 3 pounds
of feed per hundredweight daily for gilts and 1.5 to 2 pounds per
hundredweight daily for the sow. The average sow should gain
75 to 100 pounds during the gestation period. This extra weight
is necessary so as to compensate for weight losses that occur
during farrowing and lactation.
Figure 1 shows typical weight gain and loss during gestation
During gestation the sow must be fed enough to maintain
her own body process, to gain in body weight and to properly
nourish the developing fetal litter.
The importance of good feeding practices with respect to far-
rowing heavy pigs that have the ability to survive and weigh at
weaning time is illustrated in Table 1.
COOPERATIVE EXTENSION WORK IN AGRICULTURE AND HOME ECONOMICS
(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida,
Florida State University and United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating
M. O. Watkins, Director
420 SOW BRED AT PIGS WEANED
415 LBS. SOW WEIGHS
400 -SOW WEIGHS 400 LBS. 400 LBS.
FLUSHING GESTATION SUCKLING
PERIOD PERIOD- 16 WEEKS PERIOD- 8 WEEKS
Fig. 1.-Sows should gain in weight before breeding and during gesta-
tion. After farrowing, a weight loss will occur and at weaning time the
sow should weigh approximately the same as when bred. From Pork Pro-
duction by Smith. (By permission.)
TABLE 1.-EFFECT OF WEIGHT AT BIRTH ON SURVIVAL ABILITY AND
DEVELOPMENT OF PIGS FROM BIRTH TO WEANING.*
Weight of Pig I Percentage Born Percentage Average Weaning
at Birth Dead Weaned Weight
Pounds Percent Percent Pounds
1.00 46.43 0.00 0.00
1.25 14.02 1.87 8.63
1.50 15.93 12.96 18.42
1.75 7.90 34.02 19.97
2.00 6.08 49.26 20.91
2.25 4.33 63.34 22.78
2.50 4.38 67.40 24.49
2.75 3.54 76.16 26.24
3.00 4.14 77.32 27.50
3.25 2.73 82.45 29.39
3.50 3.05 85.68 30.22
3.75 2.80 83.91 30.86
4.00 1.08 83.87 34.72
4.25 3.57 85.72 36.72
4.50 0.00 100.00 30.00
4.75 0.00 100.00 38.67
Indiana Agricultural Experiment Station Bulletin 413 (by per-
Feeding During Lactation.-The process of lactation is the
heaviest drain that can take place on the animal body. During
this period the sow's requirement for protein, energy, minerals
and vitamins increases considerably.
After farrowing allow 7 to 10 days to get the sow back on full
feed. Avoid sudden increases in the ration during the first week
after farrowing, as the pigs may scour. Once the sow is safely
on feed she can be fed all she will consume.
Usually, regardless of how much lactating sows are fed, they
will lose weight. In most instances, those sows that lose the most
weight and are thinnest at the time the pigs are weaned are the
Table 2 lists suggested rations to be fed during gestation and
TABLE 2.-SUGGESTED RATIONS TO FEED
For Sows in Dry Lot For Sows
Ingredients or on Poor Pasture on Good Pasture
1 2 3 4 5 6
Corn (ground) ........ 37 37 50 45 35 60
Oats ............................ 37 42 25 27
W heat ........................ 37 30 27
Alfalfa meal ........... 10 10 10
Tankage 60% ............ 6 6.5
Fish meal 60% ........ 4 6.5
Soybean meal 44%-- 15 6 6.5 13
Peanut meal 41%.... 6 6.5
Bonemeal .................. .5 .5 .5 .5 .5 .5
Salt ............................ .5 .5 .5 .5 .5 .5
Limestone (ground).. 1 1 1 1 1 1
A General Feeding Plan for Sows and Gilts
1. Pay particular attention to the growth and development
of herd replacements. Feed them liberally on a ration containing
ample protein, minerals and vitamins. Do not keep them overly
2. Feed the sow heavily before breeding, beginning about
two weeks before the sow is due to come into heat.
3. Reduce the ration after breeding to prevent the sow from
becoming too fat. However, she should gain from 75 to 100
pounds during the gestation period. The condition of the sow is
the best guide as to how much to feed.
4. Allow sows and gilts access to pasture at all times. Use
temporary grazing crops. Stagger the plantings so as to provide
grazing over a long period. In planning your feeding program,
give primary attention to pasture planning.
5. Feed alfalfa meal to gilts and boars being grown out for
herd replacements and to sows during gestation and lactation if
pasture is not available. When fed, alfalfa meal should consti-
tute 10 to 15 percent of the total ration.
6. Locate the watering and feeding areas some distance apart
to make sure the sow gets ample exercise.
7. If you do not feed mixed rations during gestation, feed
gilts 1.0 to 1.25 pounds and sows 1.25 to 1.50 pounds of a protein
supplement per head daily, in addition to the daily grain allow-
ance. During lactation, increase the amount of protein supple-
ment fed by 25 percent.
8. Feed extra minerals and salt free-choice in a self-feeder.
A good mineral mixture is made up of 2 parts high-quality pul-
verized limestone, 2 parts steamed bonemeal and 1 part salt.