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.
- 413 Eläinlääketiede
- 412 Kotieläintiede, maitotaloustiede