Management practices to optimize the parturition process in the hyperprolific sow

Olli Peltoniemi, Claudio Oliviero, Jinhyeon Yun, Alexander Grahofer, Stefan Björkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


This review outlined current management and nutritional strategies arising from the large increase in sow litter size. Breeding goals should be reconsidered, addressing the ever-increasing duration of parturition in this species, which is not sustainable. In addition, attention should be paid to improving the international trade of germ cells and embryos in order to better cope with the challenges of the large litter. Other challenges await, including free farrowing housing and better resilience of sows as they approach farrowing to allow them to cope with the potential heat stress brought about by climate change. Behavioral traits can be useful for diagnosis of abnormal parturition. Sows should be allowed to express nest-building behavior and deviations from normal behavior just before and during the expulsion phase of parturition may indicate problematic cases. In addition, ultrasound technology is very useful, especially during the last third of pregnancy and postpartum, so that the most appropriate actions can be taken with regard to uterine health. Proper feeding management during the last third of pregnancy is crucial for mammary development and appropriate colostrum production. Prevention of constipation through adequate fiber provision and frequent meals prior to the onset of farrowing are important in the hyperprolific sow. Feeding management can be used to promote the immunity of the sow and the newborn. Feeding components, such short-chain fatty acids and yeast derivate, also appears to promote a favorable microbiota of the sow. Neonatal care and management become critical with large litters. The focus should be on situations where the number of piglets is greater than the number of teats. Applications of new technology, e.g. infrared cameras, may be useful in detecting piglets in need of assistance. In addition, such practices as cross fostering and split suckling are necessary when trying to handle the increasing litter size. The on-farm use of a Brix refractometer permits estimation of the quality of colostrum at the individual sow level, thereby allowing the farmer to target actions at specific sows that produce low-quality colostrum.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue numberSuppl 1
Pages (from-to)S96-S106
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 20 Aug 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed
EventInternational Conference on Production Diseases in Farm Animals - Bern, Switzerland
Duration: 27 Jun 201929 Jun 2019
Conference number: 17th

Fields of Science

  • 413 Veterinary science
  • 412 Animal science, dairy science

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