A new sow feed product from Cargill has been introduced to improve piglet birth weights and reduce the number of stillbirths.

LivaPig™ has been shown to reduce the proportion of stillbirths by 2.4% when added to transition and lactating-sow diets, when added at a 1% inclusion rate from five to seven days before farrowing until weaning.

Furthermore, the number of pigs weaned per litter increased by 0.5, resulting in an extra 1.2 pigs per sow per year.

“LivaPig improves piglet livability,” says Cargill UK’s technical pig specialist Maisie Lord.

“Pig livability is the proportion of viable piglets a sow can raise based on stillbirths and pre-weaning mortality, which is achieved by increasing the blood flow and, therefore, oxygen and nutrient supply to the reproductive tissue and to the piglets in utero.”

LivaPig is a blend of ingredients that uses the company's patented nitric oxide boosting technology, trademarked Proxymum®. Nitric oxide is naturally present in blood, and it promotes better blood, nutrient and oxygen flow. It is commonly used in food supplements to support performance.

When fed to sows, the product promotes nitric oxide activity and supports the supply of nutrients and oxygen to the piglet in utero, reducing asphyxia and boosting piglet vitality and birth weight, while decreasing the likelihood of stillborn piglets and pre-weaning mortality.

Ms Lord added: “While sow productivity continues to increase, and litter sizes are getting larger, the proportion of the litter reaching weaning age is decreasing. Stillborn piglets account for 3-8% of total born piglets, and pre-weaning mortality ranges from 10-20% with 80% of these losses in the first three days after birth.

“Stillbirths and preweaning mortality accounts for significant economic loss in our pig herds, and it goes against the drive to improve welfare and performance standards.”

She pointed out that since LivaPig was introduced into sow diets in Europe early in 2019, the most recent field trial results show an average improvement in livability of 3.2%, driven by a reduction in stillbirths of 1.34% and pre-weaning mortality reduction of 1.5%. Trials also show that, on average, the level of assistance needed during farrowing has halved.

Following recommended inclusion rates and fed at least twice a day in the run up to farrowing, LivaPig has been shown to give a return on investment of 3:1.

“UK trial results have been in line with those in mainland Europe, and producers in the UK have reported that sows farrow faster, with less farrowing assistance needed. Overall, piglets are born with more vitality and also go on to wean heavier.”

LivaPig is available in 20kg bags and used in transition and lactation rations.