Journal article Open Access

Decreasing the level of hemicelluloses in sow's lactation diet affects the milk composition and post-weaning performance of low birthweight piglets

Palumbo Francesco; Bee Giuseppe; Trevisi Paolo; Girard Marion

Hemicelluloses (HC) are polysaccharides constituents of the cell walls of plants. They are fermented in the gut to produce volatile fatty acids (VFA). The present study investigated the effects of decreasing HC level in sow’s lactation diet on sow performances, offspring development and milk composition. From 110 days (d) of gestation until weaning (26±0.4 d post-farrowing), 40 Swiss Large White sows were assigned to one of the four dietary treatments: (1) T12 (HC: 120.6g/kg), (2) T11 (HC: 107.6 g/kg), (3) T9 (HC: 86.4g/kg) and (4) T7 (HC: 71.9g/kg). Milk was collected at 3 and 17d of lactation. At birth, piglets were divided into two groups according to their birthweight (BtW): normal (N-BtW; BtW > 1.20 kg) or low (L-BtW; BtW ≤ 1.20 kg). Decreased HC levels in the maternal diet linearly increased (P ≤ 0.05) the body weight of L-BtW piglets at two weeks post-weaning and linearly decreased (P ≤ 0.05) diarrhoea incidence and duration in this category. The concentrations of copper, threonine and VFA, as well as the proportion of butyrate, in milk linearly increased (P ≤ 0.05), whereas lactose content linearly decreased (P ≤ 0.05) with decreased HC in the maternal diet. The present study provides evidence that decreasing HC level in sow’s lactation diet can positively affect the composition and VFA profile of milk and ultimately favour the growth and health of L-BtW piglets.

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