A 2019 article from Pig333 posed this question about the issue of feeding times in gestating sows: Does feeding time affect reproductive performance?
The answer, as any pig farmer might anticipate, was a bit complex. As one veterinarian noted, “The literature suggests that under normal conditions the total amount of feed administered throughout the whole period is more important than the actual shape of the curve used. It is also worth noting that in a system where feeding is done once, at the beginning of the day, sows remain calm after eating their morning meal. However, in facilities where feeding is done twice daily, sows are restless from mid-morning on, expecting the other half of their ration every time they see a worker.”
The curve referred to in the quote above is an illustration of feeding methods, i.e. a flat curve means the same amount given daily versus a classical curve in which higher amounts are fed in the first weeks and then a reduction occurs in the middle period and then higher feeding in the last months. There are reasons to opt for one curve over another, including the genetic line, the growth rate of the sow, and the gestation facility. There is also mention of the logistics used to make up a sow grouping after month one of gestation.
Studies done have shown that “a management strategy as simple as offering pregnant sows feed in the evening can improve the productive performance of the herd… [and] group-housed sows, feeding time can potentially be very stressful, especially when feed is restricted. However, with electronic feeding systems, sows can have access to feed virtually all day long. Offering sows the option to eat during the quietest hours of the day gives the most vulnerable animals a chance to access feed when other animals are resting.”
This means that electronic feeding and comfortable housing are equally significant. IDS Pigs specialises in gestational housing and feeding tools that can help any pork farmer make the very most out of innovations and discoveries in farming.