Supplementing sow gestation diets with betaine during summer increases litter size of sows with greater numbers of parities

W. H.E.J. van Wettere, Paul Herde, P. E. Hughes

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Conducted during the Australian summer, this experiment evaluated the reproductive performance of sows receiving a diet supplemented with betaine, a potent organic osmolyte and methyl donor. Large White/Landrace/Duroc sows (n= 450) ranging in parity from 1 to 7 (parity 2.9 ± 0.10, mean ± SEM), and mated between the 11th of January and 11th February were used. The treatments compared the effects of two gestation diets (standard (Stand) compared to betaine (Bet) supplemented) and two parity groups (parities one and two (P1/2) versus parity three and greater (P3+) on pregnancy outcomes and litter size. The betaine diet was fed from d 3 ± 1 post-mating until farrowing, with betaine content of the diet altered during gestation to ensure a daily intake of 7.6-9.0. g/sow. Liveweight (LW) and LW gain were unaffected by gestation diet; however, on d 1 of lactation P2 backfat (P2) tended (P= 0.07) to be greater for standard compared to betaine fed sows (22.5 ± 0.42 compared to 21.5 ± 0.42. mm). P2, LW and LW gain were greater (P< 0.05) for P3+ compared to P1/2 sows. Sow farrowing rate (0.79) was unaffected by gestation diet. Total litter size was greater (P< 0.05) for Bet3+ (13.6 ± 0.35) sows compared to Stand3+ (12.1 ± 0.34), BetP1/2 (12.1 ± 0.36) and StandP1/2 (12.3 ± 0.38) sows. In conclusion, this is the first study to demonstrate that gestational betaine supplementation during summer increased litter size of sows with greater numbers of parities.

Number of pages6
JournalAnimal Reproduction Science
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


  • Betaine
  • Litter size
  • Reproduction
  • Season
  • Sows

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Endocrinology

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