Discussion created on 06/11/2014

Colostrum And The Survival Of Newborn Piglets

Factors Affecting The Colostrum Quality In Sows, And Thus The Survival Of Newborn Piglets:

1. The first point that I would like to make is that a “happy, well-conditioned sow” will both milk better, and take better care of her newborn litter! This includes giving good quality first milk (i.e. Colostrum)!

2. The environmental effects of correct temperature (i.e. about 65 degrees F, with a range of 60 to 75 degrees being practicle), and being well fed (i.e. a Condition Score of 3.0) go a long way to producing a “happy” well milking sow!

3.  The effects of a High-quality, properly dispensed Gestation Diet helps “set the stage” for a good lactation period, starting with the first milk.

4. Proper vaccinations on Gestating Sows and Gilts are very important to getting the desired Colostrum Protection to your newborn nursing piglets. This must be tailored to fit your farm’s specific health status and challenges.

5. "Split-Suckling" the first six hours after Parturition (Farrowing) begins is crucial to letting the smaller, and later born piglets get a chance at the “Best Colostrum”.

6. Colostrum provides Passive Immunity (i.e. Absorbable Antibodies), Energy, and Development of the Gastrointestinal Tract to the needy, newborn piglet.

7. The effect of “Selection For Piglet Survival” is thus: since research proved that up to 50% of all “Nursing Piglet Deaths” occurred within the first 3 days of life, the Danish started selecting for “Number Of Pigs Alive At Day 5”, and started a trend to great Weaning Percentages. The quality and quantity of Colostrum was undoubtably a part of this Selection Pressure.

8. Piglet should be born at least every 20 minutes once farrowing starts. I used to pull at least one piglet, and give a dose of Oxytocin if a piglet was not born within 20 minutes of the last piglet born.

Conclusion and Summary

Proper Environment, Proper Feeding, Proper Condition Score, a “Farm Specific Vaccination Program”, Selection for Maternal Sows, “Split-Suckling” to insure Adequate Colostrum Intake by all piglets born in each litter, and “Timed Farrowing Duration” all contribute to a healthy, robust, newborn piglet getting adequate amounts of life-saving, high-quality Colostrum.

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Jon Bergstrom
Jon Bergstrom
Swine Nutrition & Production, Ph.D.
  Plano, Texas, United States
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