Cactus (Opuntia spp.) ingestion by lactating sows has been reported to regulate blood glucose levels during the first week post-farrowing and reduce the effects of lactational hypophagia. Moreover, it has been observed that cactus’ dietary fiber can increase feed intake. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of cactus addition (Opuntia ficus-indica) to lactating sows’ diet on voluntary feed intake and their productive performance after weaning. For this purpose, a total of 37 Yorkshire × Landrace × Pietrain sows were selected and analyzed during two complete cycles. The sows were randomly allotted into two groups: a control group (CON; n = 18) fed only with commercial feed, and an experimental group (EXP; n = 19) fed with CON diet supplemented with 1% of O. ficus-indica. Blood glucose (BG), average daily feed intake (ADFI), total feed intake (TFI), body weight loss (BWL), weaning-estrus interval (WEI) and subsequent litter size (SLS) were evaluated.
On the 10th day of lactation the EXP group showed lower levels of blood glucose than the CON group, both for pre-prandial and post-prandial measures. The pattern of BG pre-prandial was affected by farrowing number within CON; it was observed that sows of 1st and 4th farrowing showed the highest levels of BG, whereas when both groups were compared, sows from EXP group observed lower BG levels. ADFI and TFI were higher in EXP sows, independently of the farrowing number and the season of the year. CON sows from 3rd farrowing and EXP sows from 4th farrowing showed the highest BWL (13.8 and 6.9%, respectively). Moreover, in summer a higher BWL was detected, with 12.7% for CON sows and 8.2% for EXP sows. EXP group also showed a lower WEI (5.5 days) and greater SLS up to 1.8 piglets more than CON group.
In conclusion, the addition of O. ficus-indica in lactating sows’ diet seems to counterbalance the negative effects of lactational hypophagia due to the reduction on levels of blood glucose during lactation, which also causes an increase of voluntary feed intake of sows with their respective consequences: a lower body weight loss, a reduced weaning-estrus interval and a greater size of litter in their subsequent farrowing.
Ordaz-Ochoa, G., Juarez-Caratachea, A., Pérez-Sánchez, R. E., Martínez-Flores, H. E., Esquivel-Cordova, J., and Ortiz-Rodríguez, R. Effect of lactating sows’ diet supplemented with cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) on feed intake and reproductive and productive post-weaning performances. Tropical animal health and production (2018): 1-12.https://doi.org/10.1007/s11250-018-1611-x