Effects of dietary inclusion of Opuntia ficus-indica on the glycemia and productive performance in lactating sows
Sows with increased blood glucose during late gestation may have decreased feed intake in lactation. Supplying dietary fibre to the sow reportedly modulates blood glucose and improves feed intake. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of dietary inclusion of cactus (Opuntia ficus-indica) on the regulation of blood glucose and productive performance in lactating sows. Data from 52 hybrid sows were analysed. The sows were divided into two groups, namely a control group (CG), that is, sows fed conventionally; and an experimental group (EG), that is, sows fed commercial feed plus cacti. Blood glucose in late gestation, and feed intake, milk production and milk quality, development of the piglet, energy balance, post-weaning body weight balance and the interval from weaning to oestrus were recorded. Preprandial blood glucose was 55.9 mg per dL in EG and 71.4 in CG. Sows on EG had greater daily feed intake and lower negative energy balance (5.4 kg/day and -2.8 MJ/day) than those on CG (4.5 kg/day and -9.4 MJ/day). Sows fed EG produced more milk (8.6 L/day) than those on CG (8.1 L/day). The quality of milk produced and the weaning weight of piglets were similar for the two groups. Body weight balance after weaning was greater for sows fed EG, 3.5% versus -1.5% in those fed CG. The weaning to oestrus interval was 0.6 days less for sows fed EG than those fed CG. Feeding cactus to lactating sows regulated blood glucose, which improved most of their productive indicators.
Keywords: cactus, dietary fibre, energy balance, hypophagia, piglet