Sows with more milk and faster growing piglets are some of the benefits seen in Charles Sturt University (CSU) research investigating supplementing the diets of young pregnant pigs with a macro-nutrient found in milk.
The research led by Professor Bing Wang from CSU's School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation, has been examining the use of Lactoferrin as a feed supplement.
"Lactoferrin is an iron-binding glycoprotein found in milk that benefits immunity, neurodevelopment, health and growth performance," Professor Wang said.
"Our study found that gilts, or sows in their first pregnancy, fed a supplement of Lactoferrin throughout pregnancy and lactation had significantly increased milk production at different times compared to a control group.
"Their piglets also gained more body weight during the first 19 days of life and the research indicated that it tended to increase pregnancy rate, litter size and birth weight and the number of piglets born alive."
Professor Wang hopes the results will be used by pig producers to increase the profitability of their herds.
"Our research has shown this macro-nutrient could be used as a functional ingredient in the feed of pregnant gilts and sows to boost the health status and productivity of their litters," Professor Wang said.
The research is outlined in a paper titled, 'Dietary Lactoferrin Supplementation to Gilts during Gestation and Lactation Improves Pig Production and Immunity', and published online in the journal PLOS one here.
It is part of a project funded by the national Pork Co-operative Research Centre (Pork CRC).
Media Note: To arrange interviews contact Graham Centre communications officer Ms Emily Malone 0439 552 385.
'Dietary Lactoferrin Supplementation to Gilts during Gestation and Lactation Improves Pig Production and Immunity' published in the journal PLOS one is by Ms Marefa Jahan, Ms Susie Kracht, Ms Yen Ho, Dr Ziaul Haque, Dr Birendra N. Bhattachatyya, Professor Peter Wynn and Professor Bing Wang.