|Authors: ||R.E. Pérez, G. Ordaz, A. Juárez, L. Portillo, P.A. Saucedo, J. Esquivel, R. Ortiz|
|Keywords: ||Opuntia spp., glucose, hypophagia, lactation, weight loss|
Metabolic factors that affect sows during lactation, such as blood glucose (BG) increase and insulin resistance, lead to decreased feed intake and negatively affect productive performance of sows.
Cactus could be an unconventional strategy for regulating the glycolytic pathway, mitigating resistance to insulin.
This research aimed to investigate the effect of cactus [Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.] addition to the diet of lactating sows on feed intake and productive performance, according to farrowing number (FN). Seventy-two pregnant hybrid sows were analyzed over a 12-month period.
Sows entered the maternity ward in groups of six per month; they were divided into two groups: 1) control (CG; n=36), with sows fed conventionally; and, 2) experimental (EG; n=36), where sows were provided with commercial feed plus cactus (1.7±0.6 kg average fresh base day‑1). Response variables included blood glucose (BG), daily feed intake (DFI), total feed intake (TFI), loss of body weight (LBW), weaning-estrus interval (WEI), and subsequent litter size (SLS). The lowest (p<0.05) pre-prandial BG levels were for the EG with 55.5±8.5 vs. 70.5±8.4 mg dL‑1 for the CG. DFI and TFI were higher for EG sows.
The greatest LBW was for the CG (12.0%). Sows from the EG showed significantly lower WEI (5.5 days, p<0.05) compared to the CG (6.1 days) and higher SLS, up to 1.8 more piglets (p<0.05). Addition of cactus to the diet of lactating sows reduced BG levels during lactation, which had a positive impact on their productivity, presenting as higher DFI, lower LBW and WEI, and higher SLS.
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