Effects of dietary salt level during gestation and lactation on reproductive performance of sows: a cooperative study.

G. L. Cromwell, D. D. Hall, G. E. Combs, O. M. Hale, D. L. Handlin, J. P. Hitchcock, D. A. Knabe, E. T. Kornegay, M. D. Lindemann, C. V. Maxwell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Two experiments involving 1,020 litters were conducted at eight research stations to determine the effects of dietary NaCl (salt) concentration during gestation and lactation on reproductive performance of sows. Primiparous and multiparous sows were fed fortified corn- or grain sorghum-soybean meal diets at 1.82 kg/d during gestation. During the winter months (December, January, February) the feeding level was increased to 2.27 kg/d. Sows had ad libitum access to diets during lactation. Dietary concentrations of added salt were .50 and .25% in Exp. 1 and .25 and .125% in Exp. 2. When more feed was fed during gestation, the salt concentrations were reduced to .40, .20, .20 and .10%, respectively, in order to maintain a constant daily intake of Na and Cl during gestation. Gestation weight gain and lactation (21-d) weight loss of the sows were not affected by dietary salt level in either experiment. In Exp. 1, lowering the salt concentration did not influence the number of pigs farrowed, but it resulted in a .05 kg/pig reduction (P less than .01) in average birth weight. Average 21-d pig weights also tended (P less than .19) to be lower in the low-salt group. There was a decrease in litter size from the first to the second farrowing for sows fed low salt, but not for sows fed the higher salt concentration. In Exp. 2, reducing the salt content from .25 to .125% did not alter reproductive performance. The overall ratio of males to females at birth in the population of greater than 10(4) pigs was 52.3:47.7. Lower salt intakes tended to reduce the percentage of males born in both experiments, although the differences were not significant (P greater than .3). The results indicate that reducing the salt concentration in sows diets from .50 to .25 or .125% reduces birth weight in newborn pigs. When continued for more than one reproductive cycle, feeding less than .5% salt appears to reduce litter size at birth and weaning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)374-385
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1989

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Genetics


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