Importance of sow longevity

Optimizing sow longevity and sow performance over a lifetime is the foundation for maximizing sow health, welfare, and performance efficiency of the breeding herd as well as its progeny, leading to a more sustainable swine production. There is a significant cost associated to early culling or the trend for hyper-prolific sows and death of a sow, and sow mortality has been steadily increasing over the last decade. With associated increased metabolic stress, modern sows can be more susceptible to on-farm health, nutrition, and management challenges, leading to higher culling and mortality rates. Among the challenges faced by the breading stock, mycotoxins, present in a wide range of sow feed and raw materials, compromise animal welfare, reduce animal performance, and affect the sustainability and profitability of the entire value chain.

4 organs most sensitive to mycotoxins

  • Liver. The mycotoxins deoxynivalenol (DON) and zearalenone (ZEN) detrimentally affect the ultrastructure and histology of pig livers within one week of exposure. Because the liver has many functions, the key one being its role in detoxifying metabolites, any impact on liver functionality can have wide ranging effects on animal health

  • Gut. Mycotoxins reduce feed intake in sows and therefore have the potential to reduce nutrient availability for fetal development or milk production. in pregnant sows, zearalenone intake has negative effects on microbiota, gut morphology and permeability and oxidative stress indicators. 
  • Uterus and ovaries. Two key requirements for a successful pregnancy are 1) the capacitation of oocytes to following development stages (blastocysts) and 2) maintenance of the pregnancy hormone profile.  The cleavage process and blastocyst formation is significantly affected by the presence of DON and ZEN. Zearalenone is an analogue of estrogen and therefore is particularly implicated in many aspects of the development and functioning of the reproductive system. In addition to bleeding in the ovary and uterine tissue due to effects of ZEN, there are also negative alterations in progesterone and in luteinizing hormone which may disrupt the farrowing process and initiate estrus in sow lactation.

  • Udder and vulva. ZEN is highly estrogenic, and one of the few clearly visible signs of ingestion of ZEN by females is the presence of a swollen vulva.  Swollen vulvas have been reported in suckling pigs, evidence that ZEN can be transferred via utero, and a dose-dependent effect of ZEN on vulva size in gilts has been observed as early as six-days after feeding of ZEN was initiated.  ZEN ingestion can also cause damage to the mammary epithelial cells of gilts. 

Our approach

Our local pig experts will work closely with you to assess your mycotoxin risk, both in raw materials and the complete sow feed. We offer different analysis methods that reveal not only the most common mycotoxins, but also hidden and emerging mycotoxins.

You’ll receive a complete, personalized report on your level of risk, and then our experts will advise you on the best solutions to reduce premature sow mortality and support sow health and sow performance, sow longevity and successful sow reproduction.

For nearly 40 years, dsm-firmenich has been innovating unique solutions that not only support the physiological functions of sows, but also have a direct effect on mycotoxins. We’re the only company whose products have received seven EU authorizations, a rigorous certification process that verifies both safety and efficacy, and with multifaceted solutions including:

  • Biotransformation
  • Adsorption
  • Bioprotection
  • Unique endotoxin protection

Contact us to learn more about how we can support you or reach out to your local dsm-firmenich representative. 


Webinar Supporting Sow Longevity: Combating Mycotoxin Susceptibility in Today's Hyper-prolific Sows

Watch the on-demand webinar in which you will hear from a host of experts on the susceptibility of modern hyper-prolific sows focusing on challenges from mycotoxins and the impact on longevity and piglet quality.