Coping with large litters: the management of neonatal piglets and sow reproduction

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

As a result of intensive breeding, litter size has considerably increased in pig production over the last three decades. This has resulted in an increase in farrowing complications. Prolonged farrowing will shorten the window for suckling colostrum and reduce the chances for high-quality colostrum intake. Studies also agree that increasing litter sizes concomitantly resulted in decreased piglet birth weight and increased within-litter birth weight variations. Birth weight, however, is one of the critical factors affecting the prognosis of colostrum intake, and piglet growth, welfare, and survival. Litters of uneven birth weight distribution will suffer and lead to increased piglet mortality before weaning. The proper management is key to handle the situation. Feeding strategies before farrowing, management routines during parturition (e.g., drying and moving piglets to the udder and cross-fostering) and feeding an energy source to piglets after birth may be beneficial management tools with large litters. Insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1)-driven recovery from energy losses during lactation appears critical for supporting follicle development, the viability of oocytes and embryos, and, eventually, litter uniformity. This paper explores certain management routines for neonatal piglets that can lead to the optimization of their colostrum intake and thereby their survival in large litters. In addition, this paper reviews the evidence concerning nutritional factors, particularly lactation feeding that may reduce the loss of sow body reserves, affecting the growth of the next oocyte generation. In conclusion, decreasing birth weight and compromised immunity are subjects warranting investigation in the search for novel management tools. Furthermore, to increase litter uniformity, more focus should be placed on nutritional factors that affect IGF-1-driven follicle development before ovulation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Science and Technology
Volume63
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
ISSN2672-0191
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal

Fields of Science

  • BIRTH-WEIGHT
  • COLOSTRUM INTAKE
  • FEED-INTAKE
  • FOLLICLE DEVELOPMENT
  • HIGH-FIBER DIET
  • LACTATION WEIGHT-LOSS
  • MULTIPAROUS SOWS
  • NEWBORN PIGLETS
  • NUTRITIONALLY INDUCED RELATIONSHIPS
  • TO-OVULATION INTERVAL
  • 413 Veterinary science
  • 412 Animal science, dairy science

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