NEW research being unveiled in Wagga is offering promising outcomes in terms of increasing productivity in livestock operations.
The initial work is investigating success within the pig industry using sows and piglets but the outcomes could be far reaching in the livestock industry.
And if initial findings are to be a guide it could help producers better manage pregnancy and lactation across animal enterprises. Early indications from the Charles Sturt University and Graham Centre research shows that sows with more milk can result from the presence of a supplement known as lactoferrin.
The research is being led by Professor Bing Wang of CSU’s School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Graham Centre for Agricultural Innovation.
Professor Wang told The Rural lactoferrin is in high concentration in milk and it can be used as a supplement.
“It may be a functional food (milk containing lactoferrin) during the pregnancy and lactation,” she said. Professor Wang explained that lactoferrin is an iron-binding glycoprotein found in milk that benefits immunity.
It also assists neurodevelopment, health and growth performance. “Our study found that gilts, or sows in their first pregnancy, fed a supplement of lactoferrin throughout pregnancy and lactation had significantly increased milk production at different times compared to a control group,” she said.
“Their piglets also gained more body weight during the first 19 days of life and the research indicated that it tended to increase pregnancy rate, litter size and birth weight and the number of piglets born alive.”
Professor Wang said she hopes the results will be used by pig producers to increase the profitability of their operations.
“Our research has shown this macro-nutrient could be used as a functional ingredient in the feed of pregnant gilts and sows to boost the health status and productivity of their litters,” Professor Wang said.
The research is outlined in a paper titled, ‘Dietary Lactoferrin Supplementation to Gilts during Gestation and Lactation Improves Pig Production and Immunity’ and is part of a project funded by the national Pork Co-operative Research Centre (Pork CRC).