Sows and piglets as milk producers and consumers

Source: Vivi Aarestrup Moustsen, Pig Progress, 22 February 2022, photo credit: Theo Kock/Pig Progress

It takes two to tango! It also takes two – the sow and her litter – to ensure a high milk yield. If conditions are optimal, the highest yielding sows appear to have the potential to produce up to 25 kg milk a day. To do so, they need to be physically fit and have optimal working conditions, explains pig welfare and housing expert Vivi Aarestrup Moustsen.

At the most recent annul congress in Denmark for pig producers, Uffe Krogh (previously attached to Aarhus University and now SEGES Innovation) and Trine Friis Pedersen (SEGES Innovation) presented the “recipe” for a high-yielding sow by gathering knowledge from production, nutrition, physiology and behavioural studies.

The requirements to fulfil their potential are:

  • a healthy sow;
  • with many functional teats;
  • appropriate housing, including space and easy access to the udder;
  • a high litter size;
  • large and viable piglets at birth;
  • well-nourished piglets, and
  • piglets being in a good body condition.

If these conditions are fulfilled, the chances of optimal stimulation of the udder and many milk let-downs are increased.

It is like a large puzzle with many pieces and many interrelationships between the pieces. First: a large variation is observed between the sows. From a positive point of view, it means that it is possible to improve the milk yield of many sows – so how to do so?
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The South African Pork Producers’ Organisation (SAPPO) coordinates industry interventions and collaboratively manages risks in the value chain to enable the sustainability and profitability of pork producers in South Africa.