NUTRITION                                         PIH-2


                         Vitamins for Swine

Robert C. Thaler, South Dakota State University
Richard C. Wahlstrom, South Dakota State University

T.R. Cline, Purdue University
Robert Easter, University of Illinois
William G. Luce, Oklahoma State University

     Vitamins are one of the classes of  nutrients  required  for
normal  metabolic functions in the animal body. They are required
in much smaller amounts than most  other  nutrients  and  can  be
referred  to  as  micronutrients. Vitamins are not used as energy
sources or structural components, but are generally  required  as
co-enzymes  in  metabolic  reactions.  Some  vitamins can be syn-
thesized within the pig's body in sufficient quantities  to  meet
the  pig's requirement. Others are present in adequate amounts in
feedstuffs commonly used in diets. However, the potency  of  cer-
tain vitamins in feedstuffs is greatly reduced during storage and
drying. Therefore, several vitamins  should  be  added  to  swine
diets  to  obtain optimal performance. Attention to vitamin needs
is more critical today than previously  because  of  the  simpler
diets  containing  fewer ingredients, and the trend toward modern
housing which has reduced both coprophagy and access to  pasture.
Young,  lush,  green  grass  or  legumes are good sources of many

Vitamins Needed

     Those vitamins that should be added to swine  diets  can  be
divided into two groups:

o    Fat soluble vitamins
        Vitamin A
        Vitamin D
        Vitamin E
        Vitamin K

o    Water soluble vitamins
        Pantothenic acid
        Vitamin B12
        Folic acid

     The need for addition of biotin to practical  diets  is  not

     Several other vitamins function in  the  pig's  body.  These
include  pyridoxine (B6), thiamine and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).
There is only questionable evidence that pigs fed practical diets
will  benefit  from the inclusion of supplements containing these
vitamins. Therefore, it is not recommended that they be routinely
added to swine diets.

     Vitamin A. The vitamin A needs of swine can be met by either
vitamin  A  or B-carotene. Vitamin A does not occur in plant pro-
ducts, but the plant pigment, B-carotene,  can  be  converted  to
vitamin  A  in  the  intestinal  wall  of the pig.  Good, natural
sources of B-carotene include green  pastures  and  green,  leafy
alfalfa hay or meal. Yellow corn contains B-carotene but is not a
dependable source because  much  may  be  destroyed  in  storage.
Therefore,  in formulating diets, the B-carotene concentration of
corn is disregarded. Other cereal grains are low or devoid of  B-

     Deficiency symptoms in growing pigs are incoordinated  move-
ment,  weakness of the back, paralysis, night blindness and total
blindness. Sows may fail to come into estrus, have  poor  concep-
tion  rates, resorb their fetuses, and have weak pigs at birth or
pigs born dead with various deformities. Sterility may  occur  in

     Vitamin D. Swine that have daily access to sunlight  produce
their own vitamin D. However, fortification of diets with vitamin
D is necessary when pigs are fed inside.  Also,  most  feedstuffs
are  practically  devoid  of vitamin D except for sun-cured hays.
Both vitamin D2, the form found in plant  products,  and  vitamin
D3, the animal product form, have the same value for swine.

     Vitamin D is needed for the efficient absorption and  metab-
olism  of  calcium  and  phosphorus and therefore is required for
normal calcification of bones. A deficiency in young pigs results
in rickets, stiffness and lameness, enlargement of the joints and
general unthriftiness. In mature animals, fractures of the  bones
are  common.  Excessive  levels of vitamin D in the feed or as an
injectable have been shown to be harmful. Therefore, it is impor-
tant to prevent excessive intakes.

     Vitamin E. A decline in the use of pasture for pigs  and  an
increase in artificial drying of grains have resulted in a lower-
ing of vitamin E intake and an increase in  occurrence  of  defi-
ciency  symptoms.  Grains  low  in selenium increase the need for
vitamin E as the dietary level of one of these nutrients  affects
the requirement for the other.

     Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant in intracellular  mem-
branes.  Deficiency  signs  in  the growing pig are sudden death,
jaundice, edema, white muscles and liver necrosis. The deficiency
condition  is  often referred to as mulberry heart disease. Preg-
nant sows may have a higher incidence of embryonic  death.   Pigs
nursing sows deficient in vitamin E may show muscular incoordina-

     Vitamin  K.  Although  Vitamin  K  occurs  in  many  natural
feedstuffs  and  is  synthesized  by intestinal microflora of the
pig, a deficiency in practical diets has been  demonstrated.  The
deficiency is frequently associated with moldy feeds. Its charac-
teristics are hemorrhaging (both internal and external) and  pro-
longed  blood-clotting  time,  and  also may include blood-tinged
urine, lameness and listlessness. Vitamin K can  be  supplied  by
using  2.5% dehydrated alfalfa meal or one of the synthetic vita-
min K compounds (menadione) in the diet at the level suggested in
Table 1.

     Riboflavin. Cereal grains and plant by-products such as soy-
bean meal are relatively poor sources of this B vitamin. It func-
tions in the body as a constituent  of  several  enzyme  systems.
Therefore,  a  deficiency of riboflavin results in a wide variety
of symptoms. In growing pigs, a  deficiency  may  cause  loss  of
appetite,  stiffness,  dermatitis  and  lowered growth rate. Poor
conception  and  reproduction  have  been  noted  in   sows   fed
riboflavin-deficient diets. Pigs may be born prematurely, dead or
too weak to survive.

Table 1. Suggested vitamin mix.1
                         Amount/lb.   Suggested
Vitamin                   of premix   source
Vitamin A                900,000 IU  Vitamin A palmitate-gelatin
Vitamin D                100,000 IU  Vitamin D3 - stabilized
Vitamin E                  5,000 IU   dl-tocopherol acetate
Vitamin K                    660 mg  Menadione sodium bisulfite
 (Menadione Equivalent)2
Riboflavin                 1,200 mg  Riboflavin
Pantothenic acid           4,500 mg  Calcium pantothenate
Niacin                     7,000 mg  Nicotinamide
Choline3                  20,000 mg  Choline chloride (60%)
Vitamin B12                    5 mg  Vitamin B12 in mannitol,(.1%)
Folic acid                   300 mg  Folic acid
Biotin                        40 mg  D-Biotin

1Premix is designed to be used at a rate of  5  lb.  per  ton  of
complete  feed  for  sows  and  baby  pigs,  and 3 lb. per ton of
complete feed for growing-finishing swine.

2Menadione conversion values are 1  g  of  menadione  =  3  g  of
menadione  sodium  bisulfite  complex  (MSBC) or 2 g of menadione
dimethylpyrimidinol bisulfite (MPB) or 2.2 g of menadione  sodium
bisulfite (MSB).

3It is also recommended that during gestation period,  additional
choline  (550  grams per ton) be added to the sow diets. This can
be  provided  by  adding  2.5  lb.  of  choline  chloride  premix
containing 50% choline or 2.0 lb. of a chloride premix containing
60% choline.

     Pantothenic Acid. Corn-soybean meal diets will be  deficient
in  pantothenic  acid, another of the B-complex vitamins. A defi-
ciency may result in  lowered  fertility,  reduced  growth  rate,
diarrhea,  and  an  incoordinated,  wobbly  or high-stepping gait
called goosestepping. Many of these symptoms are similar to those
observed  from other deficiencies and indicate that, in practical
feeding situations, it is difficult to  determine  which  vitamin
may  be  lacking.  In fact, in many cases, it is a combination of
observable vitamin deficiencies.

     Niacin. Although niacin is present in  adequate  amounts  in
cereal grains, it exists in a bound form that is largely unavail-
able to the pig. The protein source and content of the diet  also
can  affect  the  dietary  need for niacin because the amino acid
tryptophan is converted into niacin.  This  can  develop  into  a
tryptophan  deficiency  in  a  diet low in niacin and tryptophan.
Slow growth, diarrhea, dermatitis, loss of  hair  and  occasional
vomiting  are  deficiency symptoms. Alfalfa meal and good pasture
are natural sources of riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin.

     Vitamin B12. Cereal grains and other plant products are poor
sources  of  B12,  but  animal  products  are  good  sources. The
requirement for this vitamin is approximately one-thousandth  the
amount  of the other B vitamins discussed.  Signs of a deficiency
include reduced growth rate and anemia. Vitamin B12 also is known
as cyanocobalamin.

     Choline. Recent research  has  indicated  that  supplemental
choline  resulted  in  an increased litter size in gestating sows
fed corn-soybean meal diets.  Choline deficiency  also  has  been
implicated by some as the cause of spraddle legs in newborn pigs.
However, this has not been proven in research where sows were fed
practical  diets  during  gestation.  Apparently, there are other
causes of the spraddle leg condition. The choline requirement  of
growing and finishing pigs is met by natural feedstuffs. However,
the need for supplemental choline is increased in  diets  low  in
the amino acid methionine.

Table 2. Suggested vitamin additions per ton of feed.
                                          Grower-     Gestation-
Vitamin                     Starter      finisher      lactation
Vitamin A, IU             4,500,000     2,700,000     4,500,000
Vitamin D, IU               500,000       300,000       500,000
Vitamin E, IU                25,000        15,000        25,000
Vitamin K (menadione),g           3.3           2             3.3
Riboflavin, g                     6             3.6           6
Pantothenic acid, g              22.5          13.5          22.5
Niacin, g                        35            21            35
Vitamin B12, mg                  25            15            25
Choline, g1                   --            --              100
Folic acid, g                 --            --                1.5
Biotin, mg                    --            --              200

1It is also recommended that during gestation period,  additional
choline  (550  grams per ton) be added to the sow diets. This can
be  provided  by  adding  2.5  lb.  of  choline  chloride  premix
containing 50% choline or 2.0 lb. of a chloride premix containing
60% choline.

     Folic Acid (Folacin). The pig's requirement for  folic  acid
for  growth  and maintenance is met by folic acid from feedstuffs
and bacterial synthesis in the hind-gut. However, recent research
has demonstrated that folic acid supplementation in gestation and
lactation diets increased the  number  of  pigs  born  alive  and
weaned.  Weakness,  poor  growth and anemia are symptoms of folic
acid deficiency. Green, leafy plants  are  excellent  sources  of
this vitamin.

     Biotin. Common feedstuffs contain enough biotin to meet  the
requirement  of  the growing pig, but the bioavailability is poor
in small grains. Biotin supplementation of  gestating  sow  diets
may  enhance reproductive performance, but no single reproductive
parameter has consistently responded to biotin supplementation. A
biotin  deficiency  is  characterized by cracking of the feet and

     Vitamin  C  (Ascorbic  Acid),  Thiamine,  Pyridoxine   (B6).
Although  these  vitamins  are  required  by  the pig, the levels
required in the diet are not known. Deficiency signs may be  pro-
duced  when  diets  contain an antagonist or high levels of sulfa
drugs. It has been suggested that environmental stress  increases
the need for ascorbic acid for normal growth. However, the amount
of these vitamins present  in  practical  diets  plus  that  syn-
thesized  by  microorganisms  (thiamine  and B6) in the digestive
tract are considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of
the pig.

Synthetic Vitamins

     The chemical structure  of  a  given  vitamin  is  identical
regardless  of source.  Therefore, natural and synthetic vitamins
are of equal value to the pig.   Since  the  natural  ingredients
used in practical swine diets may not contain adequate amounts of
certain vitamins, it is recommended that a vitamin supplement  be
added. Synthetic vitamins are produced by many companies and sold
individually or  in  various  combinations  of  vitamins,  or  as
vitamin-mineral  combinations. These can be purchased in prepack-
aged quantities ready to be added to one ton of feed. The vitamin
premix in Table 1 contains all the vitamins that need to be added
to swine diets. A 5  lb./ton  of  complete  feed  inclusion  rate
should  be used for swine starter, gestation, and lactation diets
based on daily gestation and lactation feed intake of 4 to 5  and
9  to 12 lb./head, respectively. The vitamin needs of growing and
finishing pigs are met when the premix is added at 3  lb./ton  of
complete  feed. Commercial complete feeds and protein supplements
generally contain supplemental vitamins. Check to see if the lev-
els  are  adequate. If not, seek another supplier or add vitamins
that are needed in the necessary amounts. Suggested vitamin addi-
tions per ton of feed are shown in Table 2.

Mixing Instructions

     The vitamin premix should be  purchased  from  a  commercial
company.  These  suppliers  have  much better quality control and
mixing facilities than producers have to handle the small quanti-
ties of vitamins. Purchase no more than what will be used in 3 to
4 months (use 3 months in hot, humid areas) and store in a  cool,
dry place to reduce storage losses. Mix only enough feed for 3 to
4 weeks as certain combinations of ingredients can increase vita-
min  losses  over time. Follow mixing guidelines according to the
manufacturer's recommendations. Do not add more than  recommended
levels or a potential toxicity may occur.

     Special care should be taken when adding the vitamin  premix
to obtain a thorough dispersion throughout the feed. Since verti-
cal, on-farm grinder mixers are  not  designed  to  handle  small
quantities, the 3 or 5 lb. of vitamins need to be premixed with a
carrier (ground corn, soybean  meal,  etc.).  One  method  is  to
thoroughly  mix the vitamins with at least 50 lb. of a carrier in
a tub or cement mixer, and then add this mixture to the  grinder-

REV 12/91 (7M)

Cooperative Extension Work in  Agriculture  and  Home  Economics,
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It is the policy of the Cooperative Extension Service  of  Purdue
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             access to our programs and facilities.