The benefits of natural betaine in sows

The use of natural betaine in sows has several benefits for reproduction and fertility, and more. E.F.S. lists some of them in this newsletter. Let’s start with a brief review of the positive points of betaine that are already known.


Natural betaine has several health-promoting effects. Some of the visible benefits in the stable are less heat stress, higher growth and improved intestinal health. Furthermore, less drip loss upon slaughter is a commonly observed benefit. The health benefits mentioned above are due to the four functions of betaine in the metabolism: it is a methyl donor, an osmosis regulator, an antioxidant and its contribution to the synthesis of the amino acid glycine.


Several studies show that the use of 1.5-2.0 kg of pure betaine per tonne of feed has the following positive effects:

  • shorter weaning-breeding interval
  • more live piglets born per litter
  • less weight loss during lactation
  • more weaned piglets
  • higher piglet litter weight at weaning

Even just using betaine in mid-gestation has positive effects on the performance of the sow and piglets. However, the benefit is greater if betaine is given before the sow is inseminated. By providing betaine throughout the full cycle, the sow has more energy available as well as a better hormonal balance, which promotes more ovarian follicles to grow after weaning.

The milk yield and composition remain almost the same when betaine is given. Only the content of betaine doubles in the milk by feeding betaine.


Aside from advantages for the sow, betaine also has several advantages for the piglet during the weaning period.

Betaine is passed to piglets through the colostrum and milk and this also results in higher growth after weaning. Studies show that piglets that receive betaine through milk reach a higher slaughter weight and have a lower feed conversion. A possible effect is that the betaine provided in the milk reduces the internal stress level upon weaning and that the piglet experiences less heat stress after weaning because betaine acts as an osmoregulator.

Bacteria may use betaine as an osmoregulator. Several studies in piglets show that betaine improves the digestion of nutrients in both the small and large intestine.

For best results, it is recommended to give sows 2 g of betaine per kg of feed throughout the whole cycle.

Would you like to know more? Contact the E.F.S. team!