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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: Dietary Modification to Eliminate Ulcers in Sows

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

2012 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416):
The overall objective of our current work program is to identify husbandry and environmental factors that challenge animal well-being and develop sustainable alternatives that safeguard well-being and productivity.

The specific objective of this project is to determine the effects of different dietary ingredients on the incidence and severity of gastric ulcers in sows and their impact on sow longevity.


1b.Approach (from AD-416):
Diet is thought to have a significant influence on the development of ulcers in swine. Our study will investigate the effects of a proton pump inhibitor (e.g. Nexium), sodium bicarbonate and dietary roughage on stomach lesions and abnormal oral behavior in breeding sows. Sows and gilts will be housed individually in stalls with each animal as an experimental unit. Newly-bred sows and gilts will undergo initial evaluation to assess the extent of gastric ulceration already present using endoscopy. Gastric ulceration in the esophageal region will be scored on 7-point scale (Mackin et al., 1997 – see below).

Score Endoscopic appearance Grade 0 No visible lesions A 1 Shallow erosions < 10% of pars esophagea 2 Shallow erosions 10-20% of pars esophagea B 3 Shallow erosions > 20% of pars esophagea 4 Deep ulcerations < 10% of pars esophagea 5 Deep ulcerations 10-20% of pars esophagea 6 Deep ulcerations >20% of pars esophagea C

Following initial assessment, 12 sows and gilts will be assigned to one of four treatment groups so that parity and current ulcer levels are balanced across treatments. Treatments will be: 1) Control – C – commercial gestating sow diet fed once per day. 2) Proton pump inhibitor – N – commercial gestating sow diet fed once per day plus single daily dose of 60 mg esomeprazole magnesium throughout gestation. 3) Sodium bicarbonate – S – commercial gestating sow diet once per day with sodium bicarbonate included at 2% throughout gestation. 4) Roughage – R – high fiber diet with lower metabolizable energy and fed twice per day.

For all animals, the effects of treatments will be investigated every 4 weeks over the gestation period to determine whether treatments have positive, neutral or negative effects on ulceration. This investigation will include endoscopy, behavioral analysis and heart rate responses to feeding, using Polar S810 heart rate monitors. The behavior data collected will include 24h time-lapse video data and 4h real-time video data recorded over feeding collected in conjunction with heart rate data. Twenty-four-hour behavioral data will be analyzed to determine time budgets. Real-time behavioral data will be analyzed to determine types and durations of oral behaviors, such as bar-biting, sham-chewing and drinker-pressing, both pre- and post-feeding and compared both within and between treatments. Heart rate data will be downloaded and analyzed to determine mean heart rate associated with oral behaviors and heart rate responses to feeding. Again, these will be compared both within and between treatments. Weights and backfat measures will be recorded at monthly intervals and productivity and feed intakes at farrowing and over lactation will be recorded. Animals will stay on the experiment through lactation. Stomach morphology data will also be collected on any sows culled before the end of the trial.


3.Progress Report:

We looked at the relationship between the addition of various dietary treatments for gastric ulcers and their effects on gastric ulcerations in the stomach of gestating sows. In an attempt to find any other effects of the gastric ulceration treatments, gastric pH, salivary pH, heart rate, and abnormal oral behaviors were also measured. All data collection was completed, together with analysis, interpretation and initial reporting. This project supports the parent project 3602-32000-009-00D by addressing Objective 1 to develop scientific measures of, identify husbandry and environmental challenges to, and develop sustainable alternatives that safeguard well-being of swine. And it specifically addresses the sub-objective to increase sow longevity by decreasing production related problems. Our data indicate that a diet high in roughage was able to decrease the severity of stomach ulcers, but to only a mild degree.


Last Modified: 11/26/2014
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