Let’s bring the sow back to “balance” Part 2

Let’s bring the sow back to “balance”  Part 2

We published part 1 of our article “Let’s bring the sow back to “balance” https://www.babolnatakarmany.hu/en/lets-bring-the-sow-back-to-balance-part-1/ in the previous edition of Farm Info and discussed an important aspect of feeding the modern hybrid sow: setting the optimal dietary electrolyte balance and what physiological effects it has during gestation, farrowing and lactation. Properly adjusting the dietary electrolyte balance contributes to an optimal calcium supply for the sows and this plays an important role in increasing the number of liveborn piglets and their vitality. It also supports the start of colostrum and milk production and can reduce post partum health issues of the sow, thus contributing to the success of swine breeding.

In part 2 we will focus on further aspects of reducing the challenges in the transition period. Bonafarm-Bábolna Takarmány Ltd. has introduced a feed additive for the transition period, Parto-Plus, designed to prepare the sows before farrowing and to reduce the duration of farrowing.

In the past three decades genetic selection has contributed to great advances in litter size. But an increase in the number of piglets born will only mean greater profits if the piglets reach the weaning age. Parallel to an increase in litter size, the number of stillborn piglets also increased as well as preweaning mortality (see Table 1.).

Pig Parto Plus

A recent paper has determined the average farrowing period for the modern hyperprolific sow as 3.58 hours (Nam and Sukon, 2020). The continuously increasing litter size (from 11.6 liveborn piglets in 1996 to 15.5 in 2022) significantly increases the duration of farrowing, and we can expect it to increase even further. Prolonged duration of farrowing not only increases stillbirths by increasing the risk of ruptures of the umbilical cord and asphyxia (Mota-Rojas et al., 2006), but also negatively affects the vitality, colostrum intake, growth and chances of survival of the piglets (Oliviero et al., 2019, Langendijk et al., 2018). A prolonged farrowing also means a bigger stress for the sow, and it is associated with issues such as decreased colostrum production, retained placenta, postpartum dysgalactia syndrome (PDS), problems with uterine involution and fertility issues (Peltoniemi et al., 2016). Based on this we can conclude that the duration of farrowing is a highly important index in swine breeding.  

The key to lowering stress and saving the piglets at risk because of the prolonged duration of farrowing lies in the proper preparation of the sow before farrowing. Obstipation and energy deficit during farrowing are some of reasons that contribute to increased farrowing duration.

Positive effects of additional dietary fibre (i.e. in the feed) during gestation have long been proven, but the addition of dietary fibre shortly before farrowing is crucial, especially for the hyperprolific sow. Up to 25% of the maintenance energy requirement of the sow is provided by fermentation in the hind gut. Microbial fermentation in the hind gut of the sow results in the production of volatile fatty acids (acetic acid, propionic acid and butyric acid) from fermentable fibres, and these metabolites are used by the sow to support its energy requirements. This process has a specific advantage, namely the gradual absorption of energy, which means that the sow has access to the metabolites and the plus energy for up to 24 hours (Potthast, 2022). This can also be explained by the different fibre sources, since there are rapidly (e.g. beet pulp), moderately (e.g. wheat bran) and slowly (e.g. soy bean hulls) fermentable fibre sources.

Fibre sources that are fermented at different rates will contribute to maintaining stable blood glucose levels and energy supply, which in turn will decrease the duration of farrowing. Figure 1. demonstrates that an increase of the time from last meal until the onset of farrowing will increase the duration of farrowing. This means that the energy from the last meal has an obvious effect on farrowing duration (Feyera et al., 2018).

Pig Parto Plus

Source: Feyera et al. (2018)

  • h = Farrowing duration (hour)
  • H = Time from last meal until the onset of farrowing (hour)
  • Trials 1, 2 and 3
  • Predicted

The onset of farrowing is indicated – among others – by the restlessness of the sow and decreased appetite, which results in a drop in feed intake. By choosing different fibre sources based on their water holding capacity and swelling capacity (see Table 2.) we can promote the feeling of satiety in sows, as dietary fibres with high water holding capacity increase dilation of the stomach by swelling to up to 8 times their volume in the stomach. Increasing stomach dilation will prolong emptying of the stomach and this also contributes to the feeling of satiety (Bergmann et al., 1992).

Pig Parto Plus

Obstipation is another common problem occurring at the end of gestation. Obstipation can prolong the duration of farrowing by up to 28 minutes compared to sows that have normal bowel movements (Pearodwong et al., 2015). Obstipated bowel content also acts as a physical obstacle in the birthing canal and can intensify pain associated with farrowing. We know from human nutrition that crude fibre can bind water in the hind gut, improving the consistency of faecal matter and preventing obstipation. Furthermore it contributes to the passage of feed by maintaining stomach and bowel movements and thus preventing the overgrowth of pathogenic bacteria.

Bonafarm-Bábolna Takarmány Ltd. has developed the Parto-Plus transition feed additive to support the farrowing process in the modern hybrid sow by counteracting the above mentioned problems. We selected the different fibre sources based on their water binding and swelling capacity in order to support the feeling of satiety and to prevent obstipation in the prepartum period, thus increasing sow comfort. The product combines ingredients with high energy content and dietary fibre to optimize energy supply and blood glucose levels in the sow even during farrowing, which decreases farrowing duration. This additive can help decrease the number of stillborn piglets and increase piglet vitality, while also increasing colostrum and milk production. Parto-Plusz also contains probiotics that support the growth of lactic acid producing bacteria and thus contributes to maintaining a healthy balance of the gut microflora.

Pig Parto Plus

Contact our consultants for further information about the use of this product, we are happy to help you! Our team is continuously striving to support efficacy and productivity with our expertise and products. We are committed to being your partner in success and are happy to support you all along the way!


  • Agrovision BV, 2012, 2023: Kengetallenspiegel zeugen. Agrovision BV, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands
  • Oliviero, S. Junnikkala, O. Peltoniemi (2019): The challenge of large litters on he immune system of the sow and the piglets, Reprod. Dom. Anim.  2019;54:12–2, DOI: 10.1111/rda.13463
  • Potthast PhD (2022): Why is it important to shorten farrowing time?, Pig Progress, 14-09-2022
  • Mota-Rojas , M. E.Trujillo , J. Martinez, A.M. Rosales , H. Orozco , R. Ramirez, H. Sumano, M. Alonso-Spilsbury (2006): Comparative routes of oxytocin administration in crated farrowing sows and its effects on fetal and postnatal asphyxia, Animal Reproduction Science, 92: 123-143
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  • Nam, S. Peerapol (2020): Associated factors for farrowing duration in sows with natural parturition in intensive conditions, World Vet J, 10(3): 320-324, September 25, 2020
  • Peltoniemi BjörkmanC.  Oliviero (2016): Parturition effects on reproductive health in the gilt and sow, Reprod. Domest. Anim. 2016 Oct:51 Suppl 2:36-47. DOI: 10.1111/rda.12798
  • Langendijk, M. Fleuren, H. van Hees, T. van Kempen (2018): The course of parturition affects piglet condition at birth and survival and growth through the nursery phase, Animals. 2018, 8(5), 60
  • Pearodwong, R. Muns, P. Tummaruk (2015): Prevalence of constipation and its influence on post-parturient disorders in tropical sows, Trop. Anim. Health. Prod. 2015 Dec 13, DOI:10.1007/s11250-015-0984-3
  • Feyera F. PedersenU. KroghL. FoldagerP.  Theil (2018): Impact of sow energy status during farrowing on farrowing kinetics, frequency of stillborn piglets and farrowing assistance, J. Anim. Sci. 2018 Jun 4;96(6):2320-2331. DOI: 10.1093/jas/sky141


Fédra Borbély
junior product manager
Bonafarm-Bábolna Takarmány Ltd.

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