Pig Progress’s expert, John Gadd, takes a look at colostrum. There are many that would think there is little more left to say about colostrum – so why raise the subject? On the contrary things postnatally are changing fast. John explains.
We know it is vital to provide maternal immunogens to bridge the gap before the neonate acquires its own immunity. And that this must be done quickly within 12 to 18 hours before the gut closes to these large molecules. So what’s new – if anything?
What is new is that things postnatally are changing fast. Larger litters have arrived with the inevitable last to be born short of energy reserves and short of oxygen, solely because they have had to wait so long to be born. Remember Dr Peter English’s prophetic statement of 20 years back ‘A piglet starts to die as soon as the birth process commences’. With litters of 12 to 14 happily more common today, there are bound to be more of these late arrivals. The queue is longer.
A search through several nation’s records suggest that there seems to be no more born-deads than before (where they are recorded, which is not that often), but there is a significant rise in mortalities to weaning. For 30 years as a farm advisor I battled with 12% mortality to weaning (1.4 pigs per litter), and never seemed to get it down all that much, when today I come across 15% and occasionally 18%, (upwards of 2.1 pigs lost per litter). Rather surprisingly this can get a phlegmatic response of, “Well, I’m still getting about one more weaned with these new genetics, despite the higher pre-weaning losses.”
This set me thinking as I always listen to what experienced farmers tell me. Looking back over my (and some others) clientele who were achieving 6% or less with the new hyperprolifics, losing 1 pig/litter and managing to get 13 of them to slaughter when 15 years ago they struggled to get 11 to market from a litter. So I tried to ascertain how they do it?
My term for assiduous attention to the newborn piglet, especially those increasing numbers of ‘late arrivals’.
When buying or selling a domestic dwelling the realtor or estate agent’s mantra has long been ‘location, location, location’. In the baby pig’s case it is ‘time, time, time’. Time to spend on hand management. I published a survey on this ten years ago which suggested that, on average, breeders spent only 8% on the baby pig. Not nearly enough.
In the next edition I will expand on the immunological position as it is today and provide some payback figures easily offsetting the cost of good hand management.