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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Management Tips to Reduce Pre-Weaning Mortality

item Lay, Jr, Donald

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 22, 2002
Publication Date: January 22, 2002

Technical Abstract: Data indicate that the average number of pigs born per sow is 10.9, of which 10.0 are born alive and only 8.9 are able to survive until weaning. This results in a 11% pre-weaning mortality rate. The NAHMS 2000 data indicate that of the 11% pre-weaning mortality, 52.1% die from becoming crushed by the sow, 16.7% die from starvation, 11.5% die from "other known problem", 9.3% die from scours, and 7.4% from "unknown problem". Although the above data indicate that pre-weaning mortality is attributed to very discrete causes, in reality piglets die from an interaction of several causes of death. For instance, research has shown that small piglets are more susceptible to cold and will lie more closely to their dam to obtain warmth and then become crushed. Although the cause of death may be listed as 'crushing', in reality it was a combination of factors that all contributed to the pigs death. Because of these complex interactions surrounding almost all cases of pre-weaning mortality, pre- weaning mortality has continued to hover around 10% for many years. The biggest, most important act a producer may due to decrease pre-weaning mortality is to have a stockperson present during farrowing. Concern and vigilance during this time ensures that struggling piglets find the udder and are able to consume adequate colostrum. In addition, piglets that would be crushed can be placed in a safe spot under the heat lamp until they are able to maneuver well and compete for a teat. Those pigs that appear less viable and need the extra time under the heat lamp can be taken care of to ensure that they do not become hypothermic. In addition, while attending the farrowing sow, attention to her neighbors who may have already farrowed can help save their piglets as well.

Last Modified: 4/22/2015
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