Effect of reducing crossfostering at birth on piglet mortality and performance during an acute outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome
Monte B. McCaw, DVM, PhD
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Objective: To determine whether limiting crossfostering even within 24 hours of birth was essential to the success of the management changes to reduce exposure to bacteria to eliminate losses (McREBEL) protocol in a 1800-sow herd.
Methods: During the first 10 weeks after an outbreak of acute porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) in a herd but prior to implementing McREBEL management, crossfostering was performed only within 24 hours of birth; however, because the manager was sizing and sexing all litters at birth, > 85% of piglets were being raised by a foster dam. Under the McREBEL protocol, crossfostering practices were changed so that only the minimal number of piglets needed to fill functional teats (fewer than 15%) were moved between litters.
Results: Preweaning and nursery mortality (which included euthanized culls) and weight at sale were all improved within 1 week of implementing the minimal-crossfostering protocol, although PRRS, manifested as early farrowings, weak-born piglets, increased mummies, and virus circulation among nursery pigs, continued for 9 subsequent weeks.
Implications: Crossfostering of piglets should be minimized even within the first 24 hours of age and throughout lactation during acute outbreaks of PRRS. Excellent production performance was achieved without vaccination, nursery depopulation, or waiting for virus circulation to end in the breeding herd and nursery. Continued minimal fostering between litters (McREBEL management) did not adversely affect production performance after the PRRS outbreak subsided.
Keywords: PRRSV, Porcine reproductive respiratory syndrome virus, McREBEL, crossfostering, mortality
Cite as: McCaw MB. Effect of reducing crossfostering at birth on piglet mortality and performance during an acute outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome. J Swine Health Prod 2000;8(1):15-21.
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