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 Industry Partners

Prairie Swine Centre is an affiliate of the University of Saskatchewan

Prairie Swine Centre is grateful for the assistance of the George Morris Centre in developing the economics portion of Pork Insight.

Financial support for the Enterprise Model Project and Pork Insight has been provided by:

Tag Archives: feed intake

Message From the President 2009

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by admin on October 4, 2011

If Change is a good thing – 2008/09 may be remembered as having too much of a good thing!

 Change was the watchword of the day in 2008; personnel changes topped the list with the career change of Dr. John Patience, first President/CEO of Prairie Swine Centre, taking a position with Iowa State University. Seeking a replacement became an important function of the Prairie Swine Centre Board of Directors in 2008. I am pleased to be writing this article today as the Centres new President/CEO.

 The year saw the opening of the new Sow Research Unit at our Floral, Saskatchewan location.  Every part of the 300 sow F-F operation facility has now been completely rebuilt over the past 17 years, providing very good quality, flexible research facilities and at the same time emulating typical commercial barns in Canada. Production staff are very pleased with the loose-housing system selected and both behaviour and nutrition studies currently have nearly 100% of the sows on trial in the new Sow Research Unit. The year was also marked with the disappointment of closing the PSC Elstow Research Farm. The 600 sow F-F farm had been operated since 2000 and contributed greatly to the development of knowledge in nutrition, engineering and behaviour through its ability to provide large numbers of pigs for experiments. The ability to simulate a typical larger production operation was essential in work such as sow management with electronic sow feeders, the use of alternative strategies in auto-sort grow-finish management and investigation of variability in piglet growth rate across thousands of piglets. This facility is certainly missed and alternative arrangements have been made to locate these larger group-size related trials at commercial pig farms. We recently completed a sale of this farm to JSR Genetics of the United Kingdom. This Arrangement will allow PSC Researchers some access to the barn and JSR Genetics has generously offered to have the Pork Interpretive Gallery remain open for industry and public tours.

 In fall 2008 we embarked on a revision to our strategic plan. So many changes had overtaken the industry in the past 5 years that certain aspects of how and what was needed, and whom we served were all up for discussion. In all the books on the subject of strategic planning one quote bears repeating here:

 “In today’s marketplace it is organizational capability to adapt that is the only sustainable competitive advantage” Willie Pietersen, in Reinventing Strategy Change is invigorating Where to start? Prairie Swine Centre had a business and research funding model that worked well for 17 years. That success of course affects your thinking and colours your outlook to the future, as does the success enjoyed by the Centre locally and internationally in recognition of its contribution to the various members of the pork value chain. Our emphasis on the pork producer has allowed our technology transfer and research efforts to succeed in speeding adoption of change at the farm. For example, the selection of feeder types, to the level of feed in the pan to maximize intake and reduce waste and the Net Energy value of that feed – all of these developments over the past decade and a half can be traced to a study, a report and countless producer and supplier meetings initiate by Prairie Swine Centre. There is no question the old formula worked to instil a competitive advantage for the Canadian pork producer. But times have changed and the current income crisis within the industry challenges us all first to survive an secondly to predict what the new industry that rises from this period will look like.

The ‘future’ makes a mockery of our attempt to predict its coming, but we are obliged to try. So this coming year we are on a path to reinvent our company, and its service to our stakeholders. Firstly, by broadening the definition of stakeholders to aggressively seek solutions for the many players within the pork value chain. This is a natural extension of the base of knowledge and expertise PSC personnel have within the barn and extend that up the value chain to include the transportation and packer components and down the chain in the opposite direction to the cereal breeder and genetics supplier for example. What about something more novel? How can we demonstrate a greater value to the broader Canadian population? The pig as a model for human or pet health and nutrition for example is an area where our in-depth knowledge of the pig would allow us to provide greater value to a greater portion of society.

At Prairie Swine Centre we believe in the Canadian pork producer’s ability to be internationally competitive and we will do our part to ensure that you have the research expertise needed to sustain your competitive edge in the future.

Lee Whittington

Lentils Shown to Be Good Protein Source for Weanling Pigs

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Swine Innovation by admin on September 26, 2011

On September 26th 2011, on radio, Dr. Ruurd Zijlstra of the University of Alberta discussed the effects of lentils in diets:

Due to excess lentils after the 2010 harvest, tests were carried out by the University of Alberta to see the effectiveness of lentils in weanling pig diets. Results show that a diet with up to 20% lentils had no negative effect on pig performance. Researchers found that the pigs enjoyed eating lentils so there was no change in feed intake. Further testing found that pigs on a diet with 22.5% lentils had no change in average daily gain or feed efficiency, but when pigs were fed a diet that consisted of 30% lentils there was slight negative effects on average daily gain and feed efficiency. This led to belief that the appropriate percentage of lentils in a diet is around the low to mid twenties.

To listen to the interview click here: Lentils Shown to Be Good Protein Source for Weanling


The use of trivalent metal markers for estimating the individual feed intake of young pigs

Posted in: Production by admin on August 24, 2011

Twenty-four individually housed male pigs (6.6 kg) were used in a pilot study to validate two trivalent metal markers, one in the feed and the other dosed orally to piglets, for the estimation of voluntary feed intake. Pigs were randomly assigned to one of three oral dosing treatments using 15 mg lanthanum oxide/day as the internal marker: once daily, twice daily, or 3 times daily. Piglets were offered a diet containing 1 g/kg of yttrium as the external marker. After a 7-day adaptation period, total faecal collection was made for the next 3 days. The first faecal sample voided after 1000 h was considered as the ‘grab sample’, to allow comparison of the technique with total collection. Intake of diets was recorded daily, and compared to feed intake using the ratio of the markers in the faeces. Daily samples were analysed for marker concentrations and a mean of the three-day data was used for regression analysis. Total collection data demonstrated that the accuracy of the estimation using the trivalent metals depended on the frequency of oral marker administration, as the estimation principle relies on the continual flow of a known amount of marker in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Nevertheless and using total collection, dosing the oral marker 3 times a day estimated individual feed intake with reasonable accuracy. In contrast, the ‘grab sampling’ technique reduced the accuracy of estimation, indicating that continual flow of the oral marker in the GIT is required for such a method. In conclusion, there is some potential in using trivalent metal markers to quantitatively estimate the feed intake of an individual pig, however the level of accuracy requires improvement.

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Relationship between feed, water intake, and body weight in gestating sows

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The aim of the present research was to analyse the relation between the traits feed (FI),water intake (WI), water-to-feed ratio (WFR) and weight of sow (WS) during pregnancy. Data were recorded at the Hohenschulen research farm of the Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry of the University of Kiel between April 2007 and June 2008. The sow herd had a size of 90 sows (Large White, German Landrace and their crossbreeds). In total about 8500 observations were available. The average feed, water intake, water-to-feed ratio and weight of sow were 2.9 kg d1, 16.7 ld1, 5.8 l (kg d)1 and 219.1 kg, respectively. Parity class had a significant influence on water and feed intake. Nulliparous sows had a constant water intake until day 80 of pregnancy. Thereafter water intake increased until the end of pregnancy. Water intake of primiparous sows increased at the beginning and end of pregnancy. The feed intake curves started without variation between sows at the beginning of the observation period. An increase was observed at the end of pregnancy. Weight of sow increased during pregnancy. Nulliparous sows had the highest weight gain and multiparous sows the lowest (39.0 kg and 23.8 kg respectively). Repeatabilities with the fixed regression model varied between 0.56 (FI) and 0.68 (WS). Using random regression the repeatability of feed intake increased continuously over the course of pregnancy from 0.35 to 0.75 indicating that the variance between sows at the beginning was lower than at the end of pregnancy. The repeatabilities of water intake enhanced from 0.57 to 0.75. The correlations between feed and water intake were constant until day 60 of pregnancy. The relationship decreased at the end of pregnancy due to feed adaptation. A negative relationship was found between feed intake and weight of sow but the value increased over the course of pregnancy

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Analysis of water, feed intake and performance of lactating sows

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The aim of the present study was to investigate the relationship between water, feed intake, relative body weight loss, and the weaning weight of piglets of lactating sows and to analyse the curves of water and feed intake. Data recording was performed on the Hohenschulen research farm of the Institute of Animal Breeding and Husbandry of the University of Kiel between April 2007 and June 2008. The sow herd had a size of 105 productive sows. The average water and feed intake, relative body weight loss of sows and the weaning weight of the piglets were 27.5 l day1, 5.9 kg day1, 0.5% and 8.7 kg, respectively. Average lactation length was 26 days. Water intake increased from day 1 to day 16 of lactation and remained constant until weaning. Second parity class sows had an increased water intake over the lactation period compared to younger and older sows. They also consumed more feed than older sows (6.1 kg day1 versus 5.7 kg day1). The water-to-feed ratio decreased at the beginning until day eight of lactation. After a slight increase the water-to-feed ratio remained constant. The lactation period was divided into three stages (Stage 1: days 1 to 8 of lactation, Stage 2: days 9 to 16 and Stage 3: days 17 to 26). The correlation of water intake between adjacent stages was high 0.76 and 0.80. The relation of feed intake between Stages 1 and 2 and between Stages 1 and 3 was low. The correlation of the water and feed intake within the stages increased more than between these traits and different stages. But the negative values indicated that an increased water intake decreased the relative body weight loss. The relation between the second and third stages of feed intake of lactation and relative body weight loss showed that an increased feed intake decreased relative body weight simultaneously with an increase in the weaning weight of the piglets. 

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Epistatic quantitative trait loci affecting chemical body composition and deposition as well as feed intake and feed efficiency throughout the entire growth period of pigs

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Numerous quantitative trait loci (QTL) have been identified for growth and feed intake in pigs, however, there are currently no reports of interactions between QTL (epistasis) for these traits at different stages of growth. A genomic scan for epistatic QTL was conducted on animals from a three generation full-sib population, created by crossing Pietrain sires with a crossbred dam line. All types of two-locus interactions were fitted in the model using Cockerham’s decomposition, by regressing on a linear combination of the individual QTL origin probabilities. This study is the first to report epistatic QTL for growth, feed intake and chemical body composition in pigs. Eighteen significant epistatic QTL pairs were identified, seven affecting growth, six affecting feed intake or food conversion ratio, and five affecting chemical body composition. Most interacting QTL resided on different chromosomes; only two were located on the same chromosome. The identified QTL pairs explained substantial proportions of the phenotypic variance, from 5% to 10.3%. All types of digenic epistatic effects were identified with the additive-by-additive effect being the most prevalent. These findings suggest that epistasis is important in the genomic regulation of growth, feed intake and chemical body composition. Furthermore, interactions occur between different pairs of epistatic QTL for the same trait depending on the growth stage, increasing the complexity of genomic networks. This agrees with studies on gene expression levels which showed that those are time and tissue dependent.



For more information the full article can be found at


Intrauterine growth restriction reduces intestinal structure and modifies the response to colostrum in preterm and term piglets

Posted in: Production by admin on

We investigated some consequences of intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) on weight and structural and functional parameters of the intestine at birth and after 2 days of colostrum feeding. IUGR altered intestinal morphology, leading to a longer and thinner small intestine in piglets born both preterm and at full term, together with reduced villous size in term IUGR piglets. Preterm IUGR piglets displayed an improved ability to adapt to colostrum intake by rapid intestinal catch-up growth, relative to other groups of pigs. In contrast, intestinal nutrient absorption surface was impaired by IUGR during the first days of life in term piglets. The postnatal effects of IUGR may have long term consequences for developing piglets, and these effects may depend on gestational age at birth, preterm or term.



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Effect of target slaughter weight on production efficiency, carcass traits and behaviour of restrictively-fed gilts and intact male finisher pigs

Posted in: Meat Quality, Production, Welfare by admin on August 22, 2011

The effect of 3 slaughter weights (85, 95 or 105 kg) on performance and carcass traits of 481 pigs in single-gender groups of 13 (18 groups of gilts and 19 groups of intact males) was evaluated. Pigs (39.5kg) were fed a liquid diet 3 times daily in a long trough. The behaviour of pigs slaughtered at 105 kg was recorded at 50, 60 and 70 days after the start of the experiment (5 groups of gilts and 4 groups of intact males). Behaviour (active, inactive, feeding) and posture (standing, lying, dog-sitting) of all pigs was recorded at 5-min intervals for 30 min prior to and 1 h after each feeding event. Slaughtering pigs at 95 kg and 105 kg delayed production by 7 and 16 days, respectively, compared to slaughtering at 85 kg. Gilts needed 4 days more than males to reach each slaughter weight, and chilled carcass weights increased with increasing slaughter weight. Daily feed intake and gain were not affected by slaughter weight; however, gain-to-feed ratio increased in males with increasing slaughter weight while the inverse was observed in gilts. The kill-out percentage was greater at the heavier weights. Backfat depth increased in males with increasing slaughter weight but there was no change in females. Muscle depth increased with increasing slaughter weight and therefore lean meat yield did not change. Behaviour did not differ between genders on the 3 days of observation, but the proportion of time spent active and standing before feeding increased as pigs grew from day 50 to 70. The proportion of posture changes was greater before than after feeding. Results of this study indicate that slaughtering intact male pigs at heavier weights improved growth performance but increased fat depth. Conversely, gilts were less efficient at converting feed into body weight at the heavier weights but carcass traits were not modified as slaughter weight increased. In the latter part of the finishing period, competition for access to the trough probably increased as trough space allowance decreased, and the increase found in standing before feeding could reflect an attempt by the pigs to gain immediate access to the feed.

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Impact of acetic acid concentration of fermented liquid feed on growth performance of piglets

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Feeding fermented liquid feed (FLF) to pigs has proven to benefit gastrointestinal health of the animals. However, growth performance data of piglets and growing pigs fed FLF are variable and often a lower feed intake compared to feeding non-FLF or dry feed has been observed. Accumulation of microbialmetabolites, namely acetic acid, possibly in combinationwith lowfeed pH, has been suggested to be determinant in reducing feed intake by impairing palatability. However, this hypothesis has never been investigated. A study was carried out to determine the impact of increasing levels of acetic acid in FLF on feed intake of weaners. Three experimental FLF diets were prepared to contain varying levels of acetic acid (30, 60, and 120 mM). Twenty piglets per treatment,weaned at 4 weeks of age and housed individually,were fed the experimental diets during six weeks starting at weaning. Feed intake and body weight were registered weekly. The results showed that high acetic acid concentration in FLF, accompanied by a slight lower pH level, tended to decrease feed intake without affecting body weight gain. This discrepancy could partly be explained by the difficulty in measuring accurately feed intake on dry matter basis when feeding liquid feed to pigs. In conclusion, concentrations of acetic acid, at the levels normally measured in FLF, are not expected to affect markedly growth performance of piglets.



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Sanguinarine does not influence availability or metabolism of tryptophan in pigs

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Sangrovit®, a phytogenic feed additive derived from the rhizomes of Sanguinaria Canadensis has been suggested to improve growth performance of pigs by tryptophan sparing due to inhibition of L-aromatic amino acid decarboxylase by its active ingredient sanguinarine. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of supplementation of Sangrovit® to diets adequate or deficient in tryptophan on growth performance in pigs. In two replicate trials, 24 pigs were fed one of four experimental diets consisting of a basal diet deficient in tryptophan, the basal diet deficient in tryptophan supplemented with 50 mg Sangrovit® per kg diet, the basal diet supplemented with 1 g tryptophan per kg diet and the basal diet supplemented with 1 g tryptophan and 50 mg Sangrovit® per kg diet over a period of three weeks. Compared to the animals receiving the tryptophan adequate diets, pigs fed the tryptophan deficient diets showed a pronounced decrease in feed intake, resulting in decreased daily gain and poorer feed conversion. Supplementation of Sangrovit® to tryptophan adequate and to tryptophan deficient diets had no effect on feed intake, daily gain and feed conversion. Based on the growth performance data, the results of this study, indicate that supplementation of Sangrovit® to pig diets may not have any beneficial effect on tryptophan availability or metabolism.



For more information the full article can be found at


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