Now available – a one-stop compendium of information on swine nutrition

The new National Swine Nutrition Guide offers an answer to all you need to know about science-based feeding and nutrition


Are you tired of “googling” information on feeding pigs? Have you been wishing for a one-stop shop for solutions to troubling trough questions? Well, your prayers may have been answered.   

The National Swine Nutrition Guide was recently released and is touted as an education and extension effort aimed at providing science-based feeding and nutrition information to the pork industry. Although this is a U.S. resource, Canadian pork producers can certainly benefit from this initiative.

Nutrition: What do dental and oral conditions at weaning tell us about future growth?

Research suggests that it could be beneficial to be able to select for earlier eruption of teeth as a way to improve feeding behaviour


Although past studies have suggested that market pigs and breeding sows can suffer from serious oral and dental problems, this whole area continues to be overlooked in the field of swine research. Evidence suggests that there are significantly higher culling rates for sows, regardless of parity, which have damaged or worn teeth. This is most likely attributable to the discomfort associated with these conditions.

NUTRITION: Does adding MOS to sow diets help reproductive performance?

The answer is yes, according to research conducted at the University of Kentucky. And the piglets performed better from the jumpstart in weight that they received


Mannan-oligosaccharides (MOS) are complex sugars commonly used in animal feed to encourage gastrointestinal health and performance. They are usually obtained from the yeast cell walls of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Nutrition: Irradiation of feed ingredients – a new frontier in nursery diets?

Experiments have shown that irradiation improves nursery pig growth and efficiency of gain compared with pigs fed traditional spray-dried animal plasma and meal diets


Modern nursery diets commonly include expensive specialty protein sources, such as spray-dried animal plasma, dried whey and fish meal, to encourage young pigs to eat after weaning. These starter pig diets are typically fed in a pelleted form to overcome problems with flowability of the feed.

Sidebar: Some quick fatty acids facts

-    Fatty acids range in length from two to 22 carbon chains. Some fatty acids are saturated, which means that they lack double bonds in their carbon chain, while others are unsaturated, meaning that they have anywhere from one to six double bonds in their carbon chain. The final carbon atom at one particular end of the carbon chain is called the "omega" carbon.

-    Polyunsaturated fatty acids have more than one double bond and are classified according to the location and number of double bonds in their chemical structure. Omega-3 fatty acids have their first double bond at the third carbon atom, while omega-6 fatty acids have theirs at the sixth carbon atom in the chain. The omega-3 fatty acids are linolenic, eicosapentaenoic (EPA), and docosahexaenoic (DHA).

Nutrition: Flax oil can help improve fatty acid profile for sows and litters

Research suggests that supplementing sow diets with flax seed or flax seed oil during the last trimester of gestation can increase the fatty acid composition of plasma and milk of sows, and of piglet tissues


Flax has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. In the past, it has been used to alleviate constipation in sows at farrowing, but there is growing interest in the effects of the omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids alter immune and inflammation responses which, when coupled with the hormonal changes that occur during pregnancy, have a positive effect on sow productivity and the health of the piglets.

Nutrition: Should we go full boar on vitamins?

Recent Canadian research indicates that, while vitamin supplements increase the amount of vitamins available for the animal, they had no significant effects on sperm production or semen quality 


The major goal of commercial AI units is to produce large quantities of high quality semen as efficiently as possible. A long list of factors influence the quantity and quality of semen a boar produces, including breed, age, frequency of collection, season and nutrition. Researchers and breeders alike anticipate that a better understanding of the effects of these factors can eventually improve the efficiency of AI units.

Nutrition: Can weaner diets affect long-term performance?

U.K. research suggests that feeding high-protein and high-quality diets for two weeks post-weaning enhanced performance during that period but had no lasting effect on lifetime performance


Feeding pigs at weaning is an art as much as a science. At one of the most stressful times in its life, the weaned pig must adjust to leaving the sow, moving to a new environment, and adapting to a completely different diet in both form and composition. Gone is the security of the sow’s udder, along with the essential nutrients it provides, and in its place is a dry diet.

NUTRITION: Bulking up with wheat straw improves sow and litter performance

Research from eight U.S. experimental stations indicates that sows fed a wheat straw diet farrowed and weaned more pigs per litter and had greater litter birth and weaning weights than sows on a control diet


It is generally accepted that restricting feed intake during gestation is necessary to limit excessive weight gain and fat deposition, stimulate lactation feed intake and increase overall sow productivity.