Feeding Straw to Sows in Late Gestation. Benefits to Processing?
Behavioural problems due to restricted feeding in sows may be reduced and litter and sow performance during lactation may improve by feeding fiber-rich diets. The composition of the fiber (proportion of soluble to insoluble fiber) and dietary inclusion rates may cause these results to vary. Soluble fiber has been shown to extend feeding time, spend less time standing, delay glucose and nutrient absorption while reducing aggression. Sever hydrothermal processing of fiber increases the solubility and also improves the use of insoluble fiber in pigs. Heat-treated straw was fed to sows in late gestation to see if any potential benefits to the sows or piglets were noted. Aggression was not effected, though the environment the sows were in results in low overall aggression (non-competitive feeding system and grouping occurring after the morning feeding). Satiety was also not effected. Processing the oat straw increased plasma glucose but the opposite was found for wheat straw. Gestating sows fed oat straw had increased feed intake post-farrowing and higher average piglet weaning weights. There seems to be indications that benefits can be obtained through processing and that oat straw provided benefits but wheat straw did not.