; 9 ')e eartment of Animal Science Florida Agricultural
research Report No. AL-1974-9 Experiment Station
,,uly, 1974 Gainesville, Florida
SUPPLEMENTARY VITAMIN K FOR THE SOW
DURING FARROWING AND LACTATION-/
H. D. Wallace, D. D. Thieu and G. E. Combs2/
The basic role of vitamin K in the blood clotting scheme is well established.
It has also been determined that swine, as do most animals, have the capability
by virtue of intestinal bacteria to synthesize significant quantities of this im-
portant vitamin. When the feed is not contaminated with molds and not supplemented
with anti-bacterial type drugs it is generally thought that healthy swine can
synthesize their vitamin K requirements.
Knowing that farrowing and early lactation are stressful periods for the sow
it was postulated that vitamin K deficiency could develop and further add to the
stresses involved. Sows are sometimes off feed, constipation is common, and
there is little doubt but what the intestinal bacterial environment is altered.
Blood loss associated with farrowing is considerable. All of the procedures
imposed on the very young pig such as navel cord clipping, needle teeth clipping,
ear notching, tail docking and castration all suggest a need for an efficient
blood clotting mechanism.
With the above thoughts in mind an experiment was undertaken to determine
if vitamin K supplementation would alleviate stress in the sow and litter and in
turn permit improved performance.
Feeding and management of the sows and care of the newborn litters was
similar to that described in a previous report (1). The diets are presented in
Table 1. Sows were placed on their assigned feeding regime approximately three
days prior to farrowing and fed for two weeks post farrowing at which time the
pigs were weaned.
1/ Data summarized in this report were taken from swine unit Expt. No. 215-A.
2/ Wallace and Combs, Animal Nutritionists; and Thieu, graduate assistant,
Department of Animal Science.
This public document was promulgated at an annual cost of
$ 89.60, or .09 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 i7 1
Table 1. Composition of DietsI/
Diet 1 Diet 2
Yellow corn meal 58.55 49.00
Ground whole oats 20.00 20.00
Alfalfa meal (20%) 15.00
Soybean meal (49%) 18.00 13.00
Bio-Phos (IMCC) 1.50 1.45
Limestone 1.30 0.90
Iodized salt 0.50 0.50
Trace minerals (CCC2'/ 0.10 0.10
Vitamin premix (UF) / 0.05 0.05
1/ Vitamin K was added to the feed of half the sows on each
of the diets. Vitamin K was added in the form of HETRA-
ZEEN (Heterochemical Corporation, Valley Stream, N.Y.).
HETRAZEEN was added at a level of 8 gm. per ton of feed
which provided 4 gm. of active vitamin per ton.
2/ Contained 20% zinc, 10% 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 B12, 2,500,000 I.U. vitamin A, 400,000 ICU
vitamin D3 and 10,000 IU vitamin E per lb. of premix.
Results and Discussion
A summary of sow performance for each of the three farrowing periods is
found in Table 2. There was a wide disparity in initial litter size for the
December farrowing (12.00 vs. 9.11 for control and alfalfa supplemented litters
respectively). This unfortunate difference resulting from chance allotment of
sows likely accounted for the major difference in litter size at weaning which
favored the control sows. Also the heavier weaning weight (9.45 vs. 8.76) for
pigs from vitamin K supplemented sows was likely due mostly to this disparity
in litter size. For the other two farrowings there was no indication that the
vitamin K supplementation was exerting a beneficial effect.
An overall summary of the combined farrowings for each feeding group is
presented in Table 3. The incidence of MMA as recorded was similar for the two
sow groups. Only mild cases of udder congestion and vaginal discharge were noted.
The relatively high incidence of MMA may be a bit misleading since these were
subjective observations. However, it was quite clear that vitamin K supplemen-
tation did not reduce the incidence significantly. Pig growth did not reflect
any benefit from vitamin K supplementation of the sow diet. There was no indica-
tion that the general health of the sows or piglets was improved as a result of
the vitamin K treatment. Control sows weaned a higher percentage (P < .05) of
the pigs born alive for which there would seem to be no plausible explanation
except chance assignment of sows. Control sows also weaned pigs that averaged
slightly heavier. None of the measurement criteria suggested any benefit from
the vitamin K supplementation.
Table 2. Reproductive Performance of Sows as Influenced by Dietary Supplementation
of the Farrowing and Lactation Diet with Vitamin K
Av. No. Av. No. Av. No. % Av. Av. wt.
No. Av. No. Av. birth pigs born resorbing pigs survival weaning change
Farrowing of of wt. of dead fetuses weaned to wt. per per sow
period sows live pigs pigs, lb. per litter per litter per litter weaning pig, lb. lb.
Dec. 1972 9 12.00 3.13 0.33 0.89 11.33 94.4 8.76 -82.4
Feb. 1973 13 12.00 2.87 0.23 0.54 9.92 82.7 8.29 -56.6
Apr. 1973 15 9.80 3.11 0.47 0.60 9.00 91.8 8.87 -54.7
(Vitamin K Supplemented)
Dec. 1972 9 9.11 3.41 0.22 0.89 8.44 92.7 9.45 -56.0
Feb. 1973 12 12.42 2.77 0.25 0.17 10.00 80.5 7.65 -61.8
Apr. 1973 14 10.71 3.18 0.21 0.57 9.57 89.3 8.60 -71.8
Table 3. Summary of Sow Reproductive Performance
as Influenced by Supplementing Diet with
Vitamin K During Farrowing and Lactation
Number of litters 37 35
Av. number of live pigs per litter at birth 11.11 10.89
Av. wt. per pig at birth, lb. 3.02 3.07
Av. number of resorbing fetuses at
birth per litter 0.65 0.51
Av. number of term pigs born dead
per litter 0.35 0.23
Av. body temp. (Fo) of sows at farrowing 102.6 102.4
Av. body temp. (Fo) of sows 24 hr.
post farrowing 103.3 103.7
Incidence of MMA (total number sows
affected) 18 16
Av. number pigs weaned per litter at
2 wks. 9.89 9.43
Av. wt. per pig at 2 wks. 8.63 8.45
% survival of pigs to 2 wks. of age 89.1* 86.6
Av. sow wt. change (3 days prefarrow to
2 wks. post farrow) -62.1 -64.3
P < .05.
A study, involving a total of 72 litters, was conducted to determine if
vitamin K supplementation of the sow diet at 3 days prior to farrowing and during
a 2 week lactation period would improve performance.
Body temperatures of sows, incidence of MMA, number of pigs weaned per
litter, weight of pigs at weaning and percent survival revealed no advantage
for the additional vitamin K.
1. Wallace, H. D., D. D. Thieu and G. E. Combs. 1974. Sow farrowing and lacta-
tion performance as influenced by diet fortification with aureomycin, penicillin
and sulfamethazine. Fla. An. Sci. Research Report No. AL-1974-6.