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News last update:14 Jan 2016

Research: Piglet traits on survival pre-weaning

Pre-weaning piglet mortality represents significant economic losses, and approximately half of this mortality occurs within the first 3 days after birth. Factors involved in postnatal mortality can also be associated with a poor growth performance until weaning. Scientists in Brazil have evaluated the effect of various piglet traits on survival during the first week of life and growth performance until weaning.

Piglets included in the analysis (n = 612) were born from 3 to 5 parity sows. Piglets were monitored for blood oxygen saturation (SatO2), heart rate (HR), blood glucose concentration, rectal temperature at birth (RT0 h) and at 24 h after birth (RT24 h). Genetic line, birth following or not an obstetric intervention, birth order, sex, skin colour, integrity of the umbilical cord, and time elapsed from birth until first attempts to stand were also recorded. Piglets were weighed at birth (BW), and at 7, 14 and 21 days after birth in order to evaluate their postnatal development.

Cumulative mortality rates were 3.3%, 5.4% and 8.7% at 3, 7 and 21 days after birth, respectively. Body temperature at birth (RT0 h) did not affect (P > 0.05) the survival nor the piglet growth performance. Piglets with cyanotic skin and those that took more than 5 minutes to stand showed higher chance of mortality (P < 0.05) compared to normal skin piglets and to piglets which stood before 1 minute, respectively.

Piglets with broken umbilical cords had higher odds (P < 0.05) of mortality up to 3 days after birth, respectively. Higher odds (P < 0.05) of mortality up to 3 or 7 days were associated with later birth order (>9), low BW (<1275 g), low (24–30 mg/dl) and high (45–162 mg/dl) blood glucose concentrations, or low RT24 h (<38.1 °C).

Piglets with BW < 1545 g, low RT24 h (<38.6 °C) and female piglets had higher odds of a low weight at weaning (P < 0.05). Among the factors studied, cyanotic skin, delay for standing, broken umbilical cord, high birth order, low BW, low RT24 h, and both low and high blood glucose concentrations are indicators of a lower ability of piglets to survive during the first week after birth. The growth performance until weaning is compromised in piglets with a lower BW, a lower RT24 h and if they are female pigs.

See Science Direct for more information


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