S1061: Nutritional Systems for Swine to Increase Reproductive Efficiency

(Multistate Research Project)

Status: Active

S1061: Nutritional Systems for Swine to Increase Reproductive Efficiency

Duration: 10/01/2013 to 09/30/2018

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

Introduction: Swine production is globally distributed. The U.S. is the world's third largest swine producing country behind China and the European Union. In 2012, an estimated 111 million hogs were slaughtered in the U.S. for an estimated gross on-farm value of $20 billion. The average daily inventory was 66 million animals, of which 5.8 million were sows (USDA, 2012). Swine production is driven by the fact that pork continues to be one of the major high quality sources of protein in human diets and, because of its flavor, pork is the meat of choice world wide. The average per capita consumption of pork in the U.S. is 21.2 kg (USDA, 2011).

Need as indicated by the stakeholders: Swine enterprises constitute a major source of on-farm income in the Southern Region of the U.S., and production continues to increase in the region commensurate with the national increase. Swine production in the Southern Region has represented 24-27% of U.S. pork production over the past 10 years (USDA, 2011). The most rapidly growing component of swine production in the Southern Region has been in sow farms producing feeder pigs that are shipped to the Midwest for finishing and market. This trend is attributed to favorable environmental conditions and the availability of labor and interest in contract swine production in the Southern Region and an availability of feedstuffs in the Midwest. The Southern Region has a more favorable climate during the winter months than many of the swine producing states of the Midwest; however, high environmental temperatures during the summer affect reproductive performance and efficiency.

A primary factor affecting profitability of swine production is sow productivity, and optimum nutrition of the sow is essential to maximize sow productivity and longevity. An ideal nutrition program should provide adequate nutrients to maximize sow productivity while minimizing excreted nutrients and feed costs. The continuing trends to earlier weaning, confinement housing, and intensive production schedules place biological demands on the sow that make high performance difficult to obtain and maintain. An increase in the number of pigs marketed per sow per year, through improved sow nutrition, would result in increased profitability by allocating the fixed sow costs over more pigs. However, increased productivity can decrease longevity in the herd without proper nutrition. Studies indicate that a sow must complete at least 3 parities before reaching a positive net present value (the point at which she has covered purchase price and feed costs; Stalder et al., 2000, 2003).

The research committee of the National Pork Producers Council has identified improvements in sow nutrition as an area needing further research. The current S-1044 committee meets yearly with members of the American Feed Industry Association, the National Pork Board, and representatives from large feed companies to survey their assessment of research needs by the industry. The specific research objectives that we have chosen result directly from those meetings. All segments of the industry recognize sow productivity and nutrition as extremely important factors affecting profitability in swine production systems. In fact, sow longevity is one of the key research areas identified by the National Pork Board for use of the commodity checkoff monies that are appropriated for research. Although progress has been made in sow nutrition in the last 30 years, there is still a dearth of information relative to specific nutrient requirements of sows during gestation and lactation, especially the high milk-producing sows used today. Further research is greatly needed to completely define the levels of various nutrients necessary for optimizing reproduction and lactation while minimizing, for environmental reasons, nutrient excretion.

Importance of the work: It is extremely important to conduct research to provide solutions to potential sow nutrition and production problems and the impact that concentrated production systems have on the environment in the Southern Region of the United States. Societal perspectives and governmental regulations place extreme pressures on our production systems. Solutions to these issues must be provided so that swine production in the South, an extremely important component of agricultural productivity, will remain, and that it will continue to be an economically viable opportunity for our work force.

Technical feasibility of the research: The original Southern Multi-State Research Group (S-145) and the current group (S-1044, previously S-1012 and S-288) have made significant contributions in obtaining new knowledge and creating a better understanding of the nutritional needs of sows to improve reproductive efficiency. This Technical Committee has used the approach of: 1) defining high priority research areas after meeting with stakeholders, 2) developing common protocols that are followed by all participating stations [with certain aspects rigidly followed by all participants and other aspects having flexibility for individual stations], 3) pooling the data, 4) drawing conclusions, 5) publishing the pooled results as abstracts at professional meetings and in scientific journals and 6) dissemination of research results through extension programming, trade magazines, and direct producer contact. Since its inception, the Committee has published 17 refereed publications, 1 conference proceedings, and 19 abstracts. These publications are the direct result of the collaborative research effort of the Southern Multi-State Research Group. Also, in collaboration with the NCCC-42 Committee, the Committee has published one book entitled "Swine Nutrition" (now in its second edition) and four book chapters. Committee members have been asked to speak at a number of producer and industry conferences to discuss research results. The S-1012 Committee was nominated by the Southern Region Departments Heads for the NASULGC award for Regional research. Over the last 20 years, participants in the Committee have clearly demonstrated that they can successfully collaborate in multi-state research. In addition, we meet annually with the NCCC-42 Committee, which is an informational exchange group working on swine nutrition. We have opened our objectives to their participation.

Justification for a multi-state approach: Sow research is well suited to a regional approach for three major reasons. First, in reproductive studies, large numbers of animals are required to generate meaningful data; individual experiment stations often do not have sufficient sow numbers to effectively conduct sow research. Second, pooled results from several experiments conducted with a common protocol but under different environments provide valuable information from which broad inferences can be drawn and more meaningful recommendations can be made. A further advantage of a multi-state approach is that the combined experience and expertise of several swine nutritionists can be focused on a few high-priority objectives. Also, a planned annual meeting provides opportunities to discuss new and old research findings.

Progress in sow nutrition and management research is hampered by the large variation among sows in the economically important reproductive traits (Aaron and Hays, 1991). In a summary of 7,925 farrowings in five herds, the coefficients of variation were 26-33% for total and live pigs farrowed and 36% for pigs weaned (Aaron and Hays, 2004). In contrast, the coefficients of variation for growth rate and feed efficiency were 5-8 and 4-7%, respectively, for pens of growing and finishing pigs. The number of replications needed to detect a 10% difference in litter size at birth and at weaning, at an 80% success rate and a 5% probability level, is 99 and 193 sows per treatment, respectively. Thus, it is difficult for individual experiment stations to generate the number of observations needed to reach valid conclusions.

Goals and impacts of the current research: The primary goal of this proposed project is to improve the reproductive performance of sows while increasing their retention in the herd and minimizing their nutrient excretion. This research will include studies to evaluate mineral requirements as well as essential oils as a feed additive to determine the effects on reproductive efficiency and to improve the economic return to swine producers. We plan to feed sows to examine the effects of copper on reproductive performance, especially during periods of heat stress. Seasonal infertility is a major issue in the swine industry in the Southern region. We also plan to examine the reproductive responses of sows fed organic trace minerals vs inorganic trace minerals; a direct suggestion from the industry. Differences in mineral availability are thought to affect reproductive performance and will decrease environmental impact of swine operations. We plan to evaluate the inclusion of essential oils as an alternative to antibiotics (another current societal issue for animal production) to determine the effect of this specialty product on sow and litter performance. There is no large scale research study on the use of this potential alternative to antibiotics in sow diets. As sow health and productivity is increased by success in any of these objectives there is potential improvement in enterprise profitability. The results also will demonstrate responsiveness to societally-important issues of waste management and the environment as well as concerns about antibiotic use in animal production.

Related, Current and Previous Work

Literature searches were made in the CSREES index, the CAB Index, the Index on Current Research in Pigs, and the Index of the Journal of Animal Science to locate past and current research in the three project areas.

Objective 1: Copper in sow diets: Copper, as copper sulfate, has been added to the diets of swine, particularly nursery swine, as a growth stimulating agent for a number of years. While there are many theories as to possible modes of action, the specific mode(s) of action have not been fully elucidated. Most producers find that the addition of 250 ppm Cu as copper sulfate will increase ADG from 5-10%, and improves feed efficiency from 4-8% (Braude, 1975). Historically, the response to the addition of copper sulfate to the diet has decreased as the pigs have progressed from nursery to grower to finisher (Wallace, 1967). Limited research has been conducted on the addition of Cu to sow diets.

Lillie and Frobish (1978) fed sows 0, 15, 30 or 60 ppm Cu as Cu-sulfate and either 100 or 200 ppm Fe over four parities. These authors started with gilts that had been fed a Cu deficient diet for 8 weeks before starting the study. This study found that the addition of copper linearly increased total and live adjusted birth weights (P < 0.05). Weaning weights were increased compared to controls in litters from sows fed 60 ppm Cu (P < 0.05). Supplemental iron had no effect on birth weight. A Cu x Fe interaction (P < 0.05) was found for lactation weight change with sows fed 100 ppm of Fe having increased weight loss with increasing levels of Cu, while the weight loss of sows fed 200 ppm of Fe not being affected by dietary Cu level. Sow hematology values were maximized at 15 ppm Cu, and were not affected by Fe concentration in the diet. Progeny hemoglobin values were not affected by dietary treatment. However, a Cu x Fe interaction (P < 0.05) was seen for progeny hematocrit. Hematocrit values in the progeny of sows fed the 100 ppm Fe diet, increased with increasing Cu concentrations, while the hematocrit of the progeny of sows fed the 200 ppm Fe diet was not affected by Cu concentration in the diet.

Thacker (1991) fed sows either 250 ppm of Cu as Cu-sulfate or 500 ppm Dichlorvos from d 106 of gestation through a 28 day lactation period. The data from this study indicated that the addition of Cu to the sow diet decreased pre-weaning piglet mortality (P < 0.05). However, Cu addition had no effect (P > 0.1) on milk yield or composition. Copper addition to the diet had no effect on days return to estrus, lactation feed intake or weight loss, conception rate, or cholesterol values. A long term study (Cromwell et al, 1993), where 250 ppm of dietary Cu as Cu-sulfate was fed for up to 6 parities found that sows fed Cu had a decreased culling rate (P < 0.01), heavier body weight at day 108 of gestation (P < 0.05), larger litters (P < 0.10), and that the progeny was 9% heavier at birth (P < 0.001) and 6% heavier at weaning (P < 0.01). Pre-weaning survival was not influenced by treatment, but total litter weights were increased (P < 0.05) at weaning in sows fed 250 ppm of Cu. Days return to estrus were reduced by 1 day (P < 0.1) in sows fed the 250 ppm dietary Cu. In this study, Cu supplementation was initiated 47 days post-mating. Liver and kidney Cu concentrations were increased in sows fed the 250 ppm dietary Cu.

More recently, Yen et al. (2005) fed 14 mg/d Cu as Cu-histidine from d 108 of gestation to either d 7 or 14 post-weaning. These authors found that when sows were group housed in larger breeding pens, the addition of Cu-histidine to the diet increased (P < .05) the number of sows bred by d 7 post-weaning. In this study breeding pen size and season of the year seem to be confounded. Spears and Flowers (1995) also observed a shorter weaning to estrus interval in sows fed a combination of Cu, Zn, Fe, and Mn proteinates. In rats, Cu-complexes stimulate the release of LHRH from the hypothalamic neurons (Barnea and Colombani-Vidal, 1984). A higher level of LH before weaning has been associated with a decreased weaning to estrus interval in sows (Shaw and Foxcroft, 1985; Tokach et al. 1992). Yen et al, (2005) suggested that Cu supplementation of the lactation diet may increase LH secretion during lactation, resulting in a decrease in days return to estrus.

Objective 2: Essential oils and reproductive performance of sows: The public concern over the routine use of antibiotics has led to the ban of antibiotics as a feed additive in Sweden in 1986 and Switzerland in 1999 (Wenk, 2003) and the restricted use in 1999 and the complete ban in 2006 in the European Union (Windisch et al., 2008; Janczyk et al., 2009). Considering the ban in those countries and also ongoing discussions on the use of antibiotics in other countries [e.g., in United States, HR 1549 in 2009 (The Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act) and the FDA Guidance #209 (recommendation to limit the livestock use of antibiotics, which are medically important to humans) in 2010], it is important to explore new ways to improve and protect the health status of farm animals (Wenk, 2003; Windisch et al., 2008). Although that goal can be achieved by various means, such as maintaining good housing or climatic conditions (Wenk, 2003), some phytogenic feed additives can possibly be added to the list of non-antibiotic growth promoters, such as organic acids, prebiotics, and probiotics (Windisch et al., 2008) in attaining the goal.

Phytogenic feed additives (often called botanicals) are a wide variety of plant-derived compounds that can be incorporated into diets to improve the productivity of animals (Windisch et al., 2008). Based on the origin and processing method, phytogenic compounds can be classified as herbs, spices, oleoresins, or essential oils (Windisch et al., 2008; Jacela et al., 2010). As would be expected, the content of active substances in those compounds can be very diverse depending on, among others, the type of plants, part of plants, and processing method. Essential oils are volatile, aromatic mixtures, consisting mainly of terpenes and phenylpropane derivatives, and they are present in many plants (Janczyk et al., 2009). Obviously, the composition of essential oils is very complex and most essential oils contain hundreds of substances, which have been shown to exert various biological activities.

Perhaps, the primary function of essential oils is to protect a plant (e.g., against bacteria and parasites; Janczyk et al., 2009), and it has been clearly demonstrated that many essential oils have "in vitro" antimicrobial and strong antioxidative activities (Hammer et al., 1999; Dorman and Deans, 2000). Windisch et al. (2008) reviewed the effects of phytogenic compounds as a feed additive in the pig and poultry diets which include their effects on antioxidative properties, palatability, antimicrobial activities and gut functions, and growth promotion. As would be expected, it is rather difficult to make any generalization because of the multitude of factors that can influence the results. An effect of phytogenic compounds or essential oils on poultry, however, seems to be clear, i.e., they can improve feed efficiency consistently. However, their effects on pigs are definitely not consistent, with results from reduced growth performance to improved growth performance similar to that observed with other growth promoters such as antibiotics. Limited literature research on the effect of essential oils, in particular, resulted in similar conclusions - the U.S. studies on the subject have been rather scarce and inconsistent. Neill et al. (2006) observed no effect of oregano oil on growth performance of weanling piglets, whereas Simonson (2004) indicated that a combination of some essential oils can reduce the number of intestinal pathogens and concluded that essential oils may be a good alternative to antibiotics.

As pointed out by Maxwell et al. (1994), low conception and farrowing rates and low survival rate of piglets are problems facing the swine industry. Considering their potential beneficial effects, it is not surprising that most studies associated with essential oils have been conducted with weanling piglets, even though antimicrobial effects of essential oils may have some positive impacts on reproductive performance of sows. For instance, Amrik and Bilkei (2004) and Allan and Bilkei (2005) evaluated the effect of dietary oregano oil (500 mg/kg mixed with the dried leaf and flower of Origanum vulgare) during a few days prefarrowing (from d 110 of gestation) and lactation on reproductive performance of sows under commercial conditions in Europe. Oregano treated sows had lower annual sow mortality rate and culling rate, increased subsequent farrowing rate, and more live born piglets per sow compared with untreated sows (Amrik and Bilkei, 2004). Similarly, in the other study (Allan and Bilkei (2005), sows fed oregano again had reduced annual sow mortality rate and culling rate, increased farrowing rate, increased number of live born piglets per sows, and reduced stillborn rate. While these results demonstrate potential, the experimental methodology was weak. Because it was done in commercial settings, alternate breeding groups of sows were assigned to the treatment diet rather than treatments being administered among contemporaries. Additionally, other questions remain relative to its utility in the U.S. in that the product was not assessed in all of gestation and the base cereal used in the U.S. would be corn compared to barley/wheat in Europe. Nevertheless, the results of those field studies indicate that dietary essential oil supplementation may improve reproductive performance of sows, and they may be an attractive alternative to antibiotics. Therefore, it would be of interest to explore the possible effect of oregano or a blend of essential oils during the breeding and lactation periods on the reproductive performance of sows.

Objective 3: Determine the effect of organic minerals on sow productivity and longevity. A sow's mineral reserves have been shown to decline over several reproductive cycles and depletion is exacerbated when sows support larger litter growth rates (Mahan and Newton, 1995). Possibly exacerbating this reduction in reserves are suspected interactions between a particular trace mineral and other minerals or nutrients, which may decrease its availability or utilization by the animal. A decline in availability may lead to marginal mineral deficiencies which may have no outward signs but may compromise growth, reproduction, and health. Under modern intensive management practices, animals receive a supplemental supply of dietary trace minerals in addition to the indigenous supply from dietary plant and/or animal ingredient sources. However, supplemental sources used in trace mineral premixes vary greatly in their bioavailability. Consequently, under certain conditions it may be possible to achieve maximum reproductive performance at lower dietary inclusion levels when sources with higher bioavailabilities are fed.

The premise for using organic trace minerals in animal diets and replacing traditional inorganic sources is that their bioavailability is greater because they remain stable in the digestive tract and do not form insoluble chelates with other dietary components, like phytate. It has been proposed that absorption from the intestinal lumen could be accomplished using other mechanisms in addition to those for metal ions (Ashmead, 1993; Du et al., 1996). Although one proposed mechanism is that mineral-ligand chelates are absorbed intact by utilizing the uptake mechanism of the ligand, like an amino acid or peptide transporter (Ashmead, 1993), this theory has yet to be proven.

Organically bound minerals ("organic minerals") have been developed in recent years as dietary alternatives to traditional inorganic sources and are termed metal-chelates, complexes, or proteinates. In 1997, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) developed definitions for organically bound mineral compounds (Ammerman et al., 1998). These classes of organic trace minerals differ by type and specificity of the nonmetal ligands and the method of binding.

Researchers at Washington State University conducted a series of experiments evaluating the partial replacement of inorganic sources of Cu, Mn, and Zn with proteinate sources. Multiparous sows with a history of poor reproductive performance (< 10 pigs born) were fed a control diet with Zn oxide, Mn sulfate, and Cu sulfate, or a treatment in which 25% of the inorganic minerals were replaced by mineral proteinates for one lactation period through 30 d postcoitum of the subsequent reproductive cycle (Mirando et al., 1993). There was no effect of the organic trace minerals on lactation performance; however, more sows conceived in response to the postweaning breeding that were fed the organic trace minerals. Furthermore, there were more live fetuses and fewer dead embryos when the organic source was fed. The number of corpora lutea was similar between treatments, suggesting that the organic minerals improved embryo and or fetal survival. In another experiment, these treatments were fed to gilts beginning at 105 d of age through d 15 of pregnancy (Hostetler and Mirando, 1998). Gilts fed the organic treatment reached puberty 13 d sooner than the inorganic treatment, although pregnancy and ovulation rates were not affected. Finally, gilts fed Cu, Mn, and Zn proteinates had higher concentrations of these minerals in the conceptus products at d 12 postcoitum and higher Cu at d 30 (Hostetler et al., 2000). This response suggests that the organic trace minerals have higher bioavailabilities and seem more able to meet mineral requirements for reproduction during early pregnancy.

Flowers and coworker (2001) fed Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn proteinates to reproducing females over three parities. The control diet contained inorganic trace minerals at higher industry levels. Two other treatments included the trace mineral at 25% of the control diet (below NRC, 1998), with one consisting entirely of inorganic source and the other provided as metal-proteinates. The number of pigs born live and weaned was increased when sows were fed the reduced level of the inorganic trace minerals compared to the control; however the organic treatment was similar to the control. Despite weaning fewer pigs than the reduced inorganic treatment, sows fed the reduced organic treatment had heavier litter weaning weights. Peters and Mahan (2005) evaluated the effect of trace mineral source on sow reproductive performance over 4 parities using 102 sows and 287 farrowings. Minerals evaluated were organic (Bio-Plex, Alltech Inc.) and inorganic sources of trace minerals (Cr, Cu, Fe, Mn, Se, and Zn) fed to developing gilts and sows. Sows fed the organic trace mineral source tended to farrow more total pigs (12.3 vs. 11.5, P=0.06) with heavier litter weights (19.5 vs. 18.6 kg, P < 0.15) but not individual pig weights at birth. Litter daily gains from birth to weaning were greater when sows were fed the organic source (P < 0.05). This research continued through an additional 2 parities with similar results (Peters, 2006). Payne et al. (2006) supplemented diets containing 100 ppm Zn from ZnSO4 with either an additional 100 ppm from ZnSO4 or from ZnAA (Availa Zn, Zinpro Corporation, Eden Prairie, MN) from d 15 of gestation and continuing through lactation. Although the number of sows involved in the study was limited, litter birth weight was increased (P < 0.10) in sows fed ZnAA compared to sows fed the control or ZnSO4 diets. The sows fed ZnAA nursed more pigs (P < 0.10) than sows fed the ZnSO4 diet and weaned more pigs (P < 0.05) than sows fed the control diet.

Selenium yeast has demonstrated more consistent effects in reproducing females than the other "organic" trace minerals. There was no effect of feeding organic Se on total or live pigs born; however, the number of pigs born was increased in sows fed 0.15 ppm Se from both inorganic and organic sources (Mahan and Peters, 2004). The major benefit of feeding organic Se seems to be the greater transfer of Se to the progeny. Neonatal pigs from sows fed organic Se are born with greater liver Se content then when sows are fed inorganic sources (Mahan and Kim, 1996). Several experiments have reported higher Se contents in colostrum and milk with organic Se supplementation (Mahan and Kim, 1996; Mahan, 2000; Mahan and Peters, 2004). This is related to selenomethionine being directly incorporated into the milk proteins. The effectiveness of Se incorporation into milk secretions is further demonstrated by feeding Se yeast for only six days before parturition, resulting in increased colostrum Se content (Mahan, 2000). The greater transfer of Se in the milk results in pigs having greater liver Se concentrations at weaning (Mahan and Kim, 1996).

The relatively high replacement rates for sows in commercial production systems and the fact that organic trace minerals have been demonstrated to decrease culling rates in dairy cattle has led to an increase in interest in the effect of organic trace minerals in sow diets on longevity and soundness. It is clear that reproductive performance in swine breeding herds is below the accepted potential for sows/gilts managed under commercial conditions. Smits (2003) indicated that an increase in both reproductive and structural problems was causing higher culling rates. He also noted that a parity-related reduction in sow performance was occurring much earlier, at parity 4-5, than has been traditionally assumed. A stable commercial unit at QAF Meats in Corowa, NSW, Australia was surveyed over a 12 month period (Hughes and Smits, 2002). Reproductive failure was mostly the result of post-weaning anestrous (26%) and a failure to conceive (20%). There were also a high percentage of sows that became pregnant and failed to continue pregnancy (36%). The number of sows/gilts culled for structural/skeletal problems was 14.9%. It is interesting to note that a large difference in live weight and back fat was observed in sows culled for locomotor difficulties compared with the general herd. The effect of organic minerals on lameness challenges in large confinement dairy herd systems have been more extensively investigated than those associated with large confinement swine systems, even though lameness problems and associated foot lesions seem to be a major problem in the sow herd, and account for a large percent of the replacement rate problem experienced in confinement swine production systems. Research sponsored by Zinpro (Nocek et al., 2000) suggest that feeding complexed minerals improved double soling, white line separation, sole hemorrhages, sole ulcers, and papillomatous digital dermatitis and tended to reduce the incidence of wall ridges in dairy cows. Such studies have not been conducted in swine. Locomotor problems in swine refer to a number of conditions, such as lameness, injury, posterior paralysis, fracture and downer sow syndrome (D'Allaire et al., 1992). Causes of lameness identified in swine are osteochondrosis, foot rot, infectious arthritis, osteomalacia, and fractures (Hill et al., 1986). The impacts of mineral source on mineral status, skeletal/locomotor problems, longevity, and reproductive performance have not been sufficiently addressed in sows.

Although the impact of mineral nutrition on mastitis has not been extensively investigated in sows, it has been in dairy cattle. Feeding Zn-methionine (Kellogg, 1990, Kellogg et al. 2004) and Zn-proteinate (Harris, 1995) decreased somatic cell counts. Caine et al. (2001) reported that a Zn AA complex (ZnAA) fed from d 80 of gestation to farrowing had a positive effect on intestinal development and immune function in pigs 24 h after being weaned at 14 d of age. Additional research is required to clearly establish the role of organic minerals for improving the reproductive efficiency of high producing sows.

Accomplishments of Previous Project:

Due to faculty position changes (e.g., the South Dakota State University committee representative assumed a position with the National Pork Board), closing of some swine units (e.g., Louisiana State University), and other commitments (various participants may have an externally funded project or a graduate student project that requires sows for a period of time and prevents using the sows to contribute to the multi-state project), total sow access was reduced which resulted in more time being required to meet the number of observations required for adequate statistical power on each objective. In situations such as this, individual objectives within the project are selected and prioritized by the committee in order to focus the research effort. With regard to the objectives for the S-1044 project (2008-2013), the following has occurred:

1. To determine the effect of copper supplementation on the reproductive performance of sows.

This was the highest rated objective in the 2008-2013 project but there were not enough participants ready to begin this project because of particular needs in the methodology. Those participants were able to contribute to other objectives so initiation of the objective was deferred. Because of the high need for this information, and thus the high potential for positive outcomes, this subject area remains the highest priority and is carried over into the replacement project.

2. To determine the effect of Appetein supplementation on the reproductive performance of sows.

This objective was completed. A total of 5 stations were involved and an abstract of the work was submitted and will be presented at the American Society of Animal Science meetings in July 2013; development of the manuscript has already begun. One of the participants was a Brazilian representative on the committee and these will be the first results from this committee with the international authorship.

3. To determine the effect of organic minerals on sow productivity and longevity.

This objective has substantial data already contributed by 3 participating stations but 2 other stations (including the Brazilian participant) had begun plans for putting their sow herds on this objective. Because a multi-parity sow study generally takes 2.5-3 years to complete from initial breeding to final sows completing the project, with them starting sows in 2013, their participation would go well into the new proposal period. Therefore, a decision was made to retain this as a formal objective even though there would be no change in experimental methodologies (we would simply be completing already initiated effort).


  1. To determine the effect of copper supplementation on the reproductive performance of sows.
  2. To determine the effect of essential oil(s) as a replacement for antibiotics on the reproductive performance of sows.
  3. To continue to determine the effect of organic minerals on sow productivity and longevity.


General Procedures: These procedures will be followed for all objectives, except where specifically indicated within the discussion of each objective. 1. A corn-soybean meal gestation diet of similar formulation constraints will be fed from breeding until sows enter the farrowing house at approximately d 110 of gestation. 2. A corn-soybean meal lactation diet of similar formulation constraints will be fed from approximately d 110 of gestation through weaning. 3. The coordinator of each objective area will procure test products, as well as a vitamin and trace mineral premix that will be used at all participating locations. The coordinator will maintain inventory and will distribute to participating locations as needed by the number of sows assigned at each location. 4. Gilts or sows may be started on the studies but sows should be no older then second or third parity. For gestation treatments, the females will be allotted to dietary treatment within 10 days postbreeding. For lactation treatments, the females will be allotted to dietary treatment upon entering the farrowing house at approximately d 110 of gestation. In all cases, when animals start a study, attention must be given to balancing the allotment relative to parity, weight, and genetic background of the allotted females. Females completing one parity will be considered in the statistical analysis of the data; however, it is preferable for each female to remain on the study for three parities. Gilt and sow weights at breeding, d 110 of gestation (or when entering the farrowing room, farrowing (within 24 hours postpartum), and at weaning will be taken. 5. During gestation, sows will be fed according to standard practices taking into account environment and body condition. 6. Sows will be allotted to dietary treatment and will remain assigned to this diet for all subsequent lactations. Feed consumption will be recorded from farrowing to weaning. 7. During lactation, sows will be offered feed 2 to 3 times per day and fed to appetite. 8. Number and litter weight of pigs at birth (live and total), after cross-fostering, and at weaning will be recorded. Cross fostering should be kept to a minimum and within treatment if at all possible. Litter size should be standardized to 10 pigs per sow by day three post-farrowing. 9. After weaning all sows will be heat checked at least once per day, preferably twice, with intact boars and the number of days to first estrus recorded. 10. Representative feed samples will be collected from each mixing, pooled by diet and farrowing group, and a composite sample submitted for analysis of DM, CP, Ca and P. Samples will also be analyzed for the nutrient(s) or compounds administered as the particular treatments in the project objective so that verification of proper incorporation of dietary treatments can be made and that indigenous levels of various nutrients can be established from the basal/unsupplemented diet. 11. Upon completion of data collection at each station, data will be sent to the objective coordinator. The objective coordinator will be responsible for dietary assays as well as pooling and verifying the experimental data, running statistical analysis on the data, summarizing the data and writing the publications related to the data. Statistical models must include (at a minimum) Station, Parity, Diet, and Station by Diet interaction terms. Appropriate covariates will be used when needed. Specific Procedures for each Objective: To determine the effect of copper supplementation on the reproductive performance of sows: Coordinator: C. R. Dove. Stations which have indicated that they plan to participate in this objective are: AL, AR, FL, GA, and KY. 1. Copper as tribasic copper chloride (TBCC) will be fed to sows at 20 (NRC, 2012) or 100 ppm. Diets will be fed in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement, with or without TBCC during gestation or lactation. 2. Sows or gilts can be started on study and should remain on allotted treatment for at least 2 parities (3 preferred). Stations that can keep sows on study for longer periods will be encouraged to do so. This will allow for the evaluation of treatment effects on longevity. Stations that are able will be encouraged to collect blood samples at the end of the gestation and lactation phases to determine copper status in the sows. Additionally, stations are encouraged to incorporate an indigestible marker into the diets and take fecal samples to determine the amount of Cu excreted via feces into the environment. 3. Breeding and parturition dates will be recorded and assigned to season. (Dec-Feb; winter; Mar-May; spring; Jun-Aug; summer; Sept-Nov; fall). Sows should be bred and farrowed in all seasons at each station if possible. To determine the effect of essential oil(s) as a replacement for antibiotics on the reproductive performance of sows: Coordinator: L. I. Chiba. Stations that have indicated that they plan on participating in this objective are: AL, AR, BR, GA, KY, NC, and VA. 1. Possible treatments for an initial assessment may include feeding a diet containing: 1) no antibiotic or essential oil blend [negative control], 2) antibiotic [positive control], or 3) essential oil (oregano as the initial treatment) during breeding and lactation (e.g., from about 1 wk before breeding until 15 d after breeding and from d 110 of gestation until 15 d after rebreeding postfarrowing). The final decision of whether to use just oregano or a blend of essential oils will be made when the Committee initiates this particular objective. 2. Sows and gilts will both be used in this study. 3. Litters should be cross-fostered so that all sows are nursing 10 pigs 24-36 hours post-partum. To determine the effect of organic minerals on sow productivity and longevity: Coordinator: C. V. Maxwell. Stations that have indicated that they plan on participating in this objective are: AR, BR, IL, MN, and VA. 1. The study will be to determine the effect of feeding organically complexed minerals (Zn, Cu, and Mn) or inorganic trace minerals at iso-levels of Zn, Cu and Mn during gestation and lactation on reproductive performance and longevity. Total levels of these trace minerals will be 125 ppm Zn, 35 ppm Cu and 50 ppm Mn with the complexed organic trace minerals replacing 50, 20, and 10 ppm of the inorganic minerals, respectively. 2. Sows or gilts can be used in this experiment, and they will be continued for a minimum of two reproductive cycles. The initial allotment will be done prior to breeding and will be random from outcome groups of parity and weight. 3. Additional data collected in this study will include conception rate, farrowing rate, culling rate and reason for culling. Stations that are able will be encouraged to take blood samples at the end of the gestation and lactation phases for the determination of mineral status of the sows.

Measurement of Progress and Results


  • " Collection and analysis of reproductive performance data on sows fed copper. Data collected will include parity, sow weights at breeding, d 110 of gestation (or when entering the farrowing room, farrowing (within 24 hours postpartum), and at weaning; feed consumption during lactation from farrowing to weaning; number and weights of pigs at birth (total and live), after cross-fostering, and at weaning; the number of days to first estrus after weaning. The effect of season will be evaluated. Blood samples for LH determination will be taken by at least one station. Random gestation and lactation fecal samples will be taken by at least two stations for determination of the impact of Cu excretion on the environment using indirect digestibility techniques. A random subset of sows will be slaughtered at one station after sows have completed 2 parities for tissue collection (liver, kidney, heart, and bone) to measure trace mineral (Fe, Zn, Cu, and Mn) content.
  • " Collection and analysis of reproductive performance data on sows fed essential oil(s). Data collected will include parity, sow weights at breeding, d 110 of gestation (or when entering the farrowing room, farrowing (within 24 hours postpartum), and at weaning; feed consumption during lactation from farrowing to weaning; number and weights of pigs at birth (total and live), after cross-fostering, and at weaning; the number of days to first estrus after weaning. Because of expected improvements in feed efficiency with antibiotics, random gestation and lactation fecal samples will be taken by at least two stations for determination of the impact of treatments on dry matter, energy, and protein (N) digestibility using indirect digestibility techniques. The effect of season will be evaluated.
  • " Collection and analysis of reproductive performance data on sows fed organic minerals. Data collected will include parity, sow weights at breeding, d 110 of gestation (or when entering the farrowing room, farrowing (within 24 hours postpartum), and at weaning; feed consumption during lactation from farrowing to weaning; feed consumption during lactation from farrowing to weaning; number and weights of pigs at birth (total and live), after cross-fostering, and at weaning, and the number of days to first estrus after weaning. Farrowing rate and conception rate will be determined.

Outcomes or Projected Impacts

  • " We will be able to determine if sow reproductive efficiency is affected when sows are fed supplemental copper. If the results are positive, increases in sow productivity, especially during the warm seasons, will increase producer's income. An agricultural economist will be engaged to provide an assessment of the economic feasibility of the application of this research. Computations of enterprise mass balance for trace minerals will be computed.
  • " We will determine if the reproductive efficiency of sows is affected when fed essential oils rather than antibiotics. If the results are positive, increases in sow productivity, especially in the warm seasons, will increase producer's income and may reduce production costs. An agricultural economist will be engaged to provide an assessment of the economic impacts of these treatments with emphasis on energy utilization.
  • " We will determine if sow reproductive efficiency is affected when sows are fed organic minerals. If positive, increases in sow productivity and decrease in production costs will be seen. An agricultural economist will be engaged to provide an assessment of the economic feasibility of the application of this research.


(0): Scientific presentations will be made after two years of the initiation of each objective. The associated publications will be completed and ready for submission for review at the end of the third year. The only time-linked accomplishments associated with this research involve the rate at which the research sites can start and complete their individual studies. The initiation of each objective area is dependent on the coordinator of each objective area procuring test products, as well as any common vitamin and trace mineral premixes, that will be used at all participating locations for that particular objective.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Outreach Plan

Data from each objective will be published first in abstract form by the coordinator of the objective, and he/she will present the data orally or in poster form at a national or regional scientific conference. Next, a manuscript will be prepared and submitted to a refereed journal, probably the Journal of Animal Science. Each participant on the objectives may choose to publish their contribution to the objective in producer field days, university publications, or in a graduate student's thesis or dissertation; in the producer field days and university publications, participants will be strongly encouraged to provide the information that the information was generated as a part of cooperation in a multistate project overseen by NIMSS. In addition, some members of the committee hold extension appointments, and all members of the committee interact with their extension colleagues or participate in extension functions. Results will also be published in trade magazine Research Reports with specific note that the results are from a multi-state research project overseen by NIMSS. The current S-1044 committee meets yearly with members of the American Feed Industry Association, the National Pork Board, and representatives from large feed companies to inform them of our progress and to survey their assessment of research needs by the industry; that activity will continue.


The Multi-state research committee includes the regional Administrative Advisor (nonvoting); a technical representative of each cooperating experiment station, appointed by the respective Director; and a non-voting, consulting member representing NIFA. The Committee will elect a Chair, Vice-Chair, and Recorder. The Recorder position will be elected each year; the Vice-Chair will move into the position of Chair, the Recorder will move to the position of Vice-Chair. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a NIFA Representative.

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