Maximizing Sow Production

Maximizing sow production is a continuous challenge for producers. One of the key drivers in sow production is feed intake during lactation. In turn, feed intake during lactation can impact several key performance metrics including weights, non-productive sow days and sow longevity.1 A reduction in feed intake during lactation leads to less energy available for the sow to utilize for body maintenance and to produce milk for piglets. In addition, sows can become insulin resistant during lactation, which also reduces the amount of glucose cleared from the blood.2

Overcoming insulin resistance can be achieved through feeding KemTRACE® Chromium at 200 ppb. The presence of chromium potentiates the action of insulin in insulin-sensitive tissues, which results in a greater net glucose movement into the cell.3

KemTRACE® Chromium fed at 200 ppb has been shown to increase glucose clearance by 45% over the control in growing barrows, thus allowing more energy to reach target tissues to maintain and improve performance.4

Feeding 200 ppb of chromium propionate to sows during gestation and lactation resulted in sows with decreased back fat loss compared to sows fed a control diet without chromium propionate.5 The reduction in back fat loss indicates the sows fed chromium propionate did not have to rely as heavily on fat stores to provide their required amount of energy during lactation. Improvements in body condition also lead to a reduction in non-productive sow days.

Non-productive sow days were reduced by 5 days when sows were fed chromium propionate.6 In addition to improving non-productive sow days, average herd parity was increased from 2.7 to 2.9 per year as more animals remained in the herd after parturition.6

Other studies evaluating feeding chromium to sows found increases in total pigs born per sow and number of pigs weaned per sow. Sows fed chromium propionate on average had 0.6 more pigs born per sow and weaned 0.3 more pigs per sow.5 Additionally, sows were able to wean piglets 0.7 lbs heavier, setting those offspring up to be higher performers over their lifecycle.5,7

The Impact of KemTRACE® Chromium

Improving glucose availability and clearance can provide significant advantages to sows. The ability to clear more glucose reduces the sow's dependence on internal reserves from fat and muscle stores, allowing her to continue to perform at a high level without sacrificing her own body condition. Sows not only were able to produce more offspring, but were also able to maintain body condition during lactation and thus decreasing non-productive sow days. The addition of KemTRACE® Chromium to sow diets is essential in ensuring proper maintenance and production.



1Koketsu, Y., G. D. Dial, J. E. Pettigrew, and V. L. King. 1996. Feed intake pattern during lactation and subsequent reproductive performance of sows. Journal of Animal Science. 74:2875-2884.

2Mosnier, E., N. Le Floc’h, M. Etienne, P. Ramaekers, B. Sève, and M.-C. Père. 2010. Reduced feed intake of lactating primiparous sows is associated with increased insulin resistance during the peripartum period and is not modified through supplementation with dietary tryptophan. J. Anim. Sci. 88:612-625.

3Spears, J. W., and W. P. Weiss. Invited Review: Mineral and vitamin nutrition in ruminants. The Professional. Animal Scientist TBC (TBC):1–12. ARPAS1291.

4Matthews, J. O., L. L. Southern, J. M. Fernandez, J. E. Pontif, T. D. Bidner, and R. L. Odgaard. 2001. Effect of chromium picolinate and chromium propionate on glucose and insulin kinetics of growing barrows and on growth and carcass traits of growing-finishing barrows. J. Anim. Sci. 79:2172-2178.

5Kemin Internal Document, 11-00145.

6Kemin Internal Document, 12-00022.

7Collins, C. L., J. R. Pluske, R. S. Morrison, T. N. McDonald, R. J. Smits, D. J. Henman, I. Stensland, and F. R. Dunshea. 2016. Post-weaning and whole-of-life performance of pigs is determined by live weight at weaning and the complexity of the diet fed after weaning. Anim. Nutr. 3:372-379.