Pre-weaning mortality of piglets in a bedded group-farrowing system

Yuzhi Li, PhD; Lee Johnston, PhD; Adrienne Hilbrands, MSc

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By retrieving sow performance data from 5 years of production, we evaluated factors that related to pre-weaning mortality of piglets in a bedded group-farrowing system. Data were collected on 421 litters that were weaned at 4 to 5 weeks of age. Average live litter size at birth and weaning was 11.5 and 8.9 pigs, respectively, resulting in an overall pre-weaning mortality rate of 22.6%. A reduction in piglet mortality was observed over the course of the study (P < .001), which may be attributed to improvement in management practices. During summer months, piglet mortality was greater than during other seasons (30% versus 22% ± 2.2%; P < .01). Average pre-weaning mortality of piglets born to younger sows was lower than in those born to mature sows (19% versus 29% ± 2.3%; P < .001). Large variation in piglet mortality among individual sows was observed, and the between-sow difference showed some consistency across parities (Rrep = 0.25). Results of this study suggest that by implementing good management practices, alleviating heat stress, increasing the proportion of younger sows, and removing sows with high piglet mortality in early parities, piglet mortality in group-farrowing systems can be reduced.

Keywords: pre-weaning mortality, group farrowing

RIS citationCite as: Li Y, Johnston L, Hilbrands A. Pre-weaning mortality of piglets in a bedded group-farrowing system. J Swine Health Prod 2010;18(2):75-80.

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