Piglets at risk below 1.13 kg birthweight

14-06-2016 | | |
Jan Jourquin, Elanco. <em>Photo: Vincent ter Beek, RBI</em>
Jan Jourquin, Elanco. Photo: Vincent ter Beek, RBI

Piglets born at a weight below 1.13 kg have been found to have a substantially decreased chance of survival.

This cut-off value has been calculated by research from Elanco and PigChamp Pro Europa, in Spain. The result was presented by Jan Jourquin, Elanco, at the International Pig Veterinary Society (IPVS) Congress held in Dublin, Ireland, 7-10 June, 2016.

Jourquin explained that birthweight is a good predictor for survival chances and growth potential, independent of litter size and farm.

Low bodyweight, high mortality

He said that low bodyweight at birth is generally considered to be related to high mortality rates, but there is no real uniformity throughout studies published when bodyweight exactly is low. The research therefore aimed to define a criterion for low bodyweight at birth.

In order to do so, the researchers aimed to find a threshold value. On 3 farms in Spain, they followed 2,331 litters from 178 litters from birth to slaughter or moment of death. Many data surrounding the life (or death) of these piglets were recorded.

Clear breaking point for survival

On average, litter size was found to be 14.3 piglets, of which 13.1 were liveborn. Average birth weight was 1.46 kg. Total mortality was found to be 17.5%. The weight of 1.13 kg was found to be a clear breaking point when it comes down to pre-weaning survival chances. Below this weight, piglets on average had a 58% chance of survival; above this weight, the survival chances were 92%.

Jourquin added that 1.13 kg was the cut-off point in the dataset they had used, but he pointed to fairly similar recent research in the US where a cut-off point of roughly 1.11 kg came out. These data were presented at the recent midwestern meeting of the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS), in Des Moines, IA, United States.

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ter Beek
Vincent ter Beek Editor of Pig Progress / Topic: Pigs around the world