Impact of Calcium and Phosphorus on Sow Lameness and Sow Longevity
As sow productivity continues to improve, dietary mineral recommendations are evolving. Physiological and anatomical demands on the skeletal system are increasing so higher dietary levels of minerals like phosphorus and calcium are recommended. The modern, highly prolific sow has not had much research done on the calcium requirement needed. It may differ as milk requirements are for a larger litter now and sows may need to mobilize calcium from their bones for milk production. Higher calcium demands may contribute to the reduced longevity of sow herds. Lower sow longevity increases costs through raising replacement gilts. A welfare concern is stall housing of sows with less food retailers being willing to associate with this practice. Confinement provides no opportunity for movement, which is needed in order to maintain bone strength and integrity. Animals in group housing have increased motility and therefore their calcium and phosphorus requirements may also differ. The group setting had increased performance with larger litters and heavier piglets being born. This research indicates that current recommendations are adequate for a non-competitive group housed situation.