Factors affecting sow colostrum yield and composition, and their impact on piglet growth and health

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The present study investigated sow colostrum yield (CY), colostrum composition and factors affecting them, and their relation to piglet survivability, growth and mortality. The study included 230 sows with 3,210 live-born piglets from five Finnish and one Dutch sow herd. Sow farrowing was supervised, and piglets were individually weighed at birth (BWB) and 24 h after birth of first piglet in order to calculate piglet CI and sow CY. Colostrum nutritional composition, immunoglobulin (Ig), serum amyloid A (SAA) and haptoglobin (Hp) contents were assessed. Sow plasma SAA, Hp and progesterone around farrowing were also assessed. Selected ear-tagged piglets were weighed at 3 to 4 weeks of age to calculate individual average daily gain. Sow CY was positively correlated with plasma Hp (P = 0.029) and number of live-born piglets (P < 0.01). An additional minute of farrowing duration lowered the CY by 2.2 g (P = 0.01). Piglet CI was positively associated with piglet weight at birth (P < 0.001) and negatively associated with the number of live-born piglets in the litter and percentage of protein in the colostrum (P < 0.001). Both piglet CI and birth weight were positively associated with piglet average daily gain (ADG) (P < 0.001). Piglet survival from birth to weaning depends on CI. We established that the risk of piglet death or of a piglet being treated with antibiotic before weaning increases with a decrease in sow back fat thickness at farrowing (P = 0.04). Similarly, we found that piglets from litters with low BWB and low CI had a higher risk of death before weaning (P < 0.001). Piglets born from sows with lower levels of colostrum IgA and SAA and high plasma progesterone at the end of farrowing had a higher risk of neonatal diarrhea (P = 0.04; P = 0.05; P = 0.04). Piglets born from sows having higher back fat thickness at weaning had a higher risk of developing weaning diarrhea (P = 0.02). In conclusion, longer farrowing duration can be detrimental and can negatively influence sow CY. Sow body condition and physiological status around farrowing can also affect CY, and thereby increase piglet mortality and use of antibiotics in neonatal piglets. Neonatal piglets can benefit from higher colostrum immunoglobulins, SAA, and decreased level of plasma progesterone in sows at the end of farrowing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLivestock Science
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Acute phase proteins
  • Antibiotic
  • Environment
  • Farrowing
  • Piglet mortality
  • 413 Veterinary science

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