Location: Reproduction Research
Title: Use of the Immunocrit to monitor a split-suckle program in commercial production Author
Submitted to: Pig Reproduction National Conference Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: January 2, 2013
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Continued survival of neonatal piglets requires that they receive sufficient colostrum from the dam within the first 24 h of life. Many swine producers use split- suckling to optimize access of neonatal piglets to colostrum. However, it can be difficult to optimize the details of the procedures used and assess their outcomes with regard to colostrum acquisition by individual piglets. A technique called the “Immunocrit” (IC), based on measuring piglet serum immunoglobulin, was recently developed that allows rapid and inexpensive assessment of whether a piglet nurses successfully in the first day of life. The IC was used to compare piglets from split-suckled and untreated control litters in a commercial setting. Litters from sows (parity 1-8) were divided between control (n = 151) and split suckle (n = 160) treatments. For split-suckle treatment, when the number of piglets born alive reached 9, the first 5 piglets born were separated from the sow for up to 4 h, allowing the rest of the litter better access to the sow. Blood samples were collected from piglets in each litter on day 1 of age and measured for IgG using the IC. Piglet weights were collected on day 1 and at weaning, and survival was recorded at weaning. The split-suckle treatment increased (P </= 0.07) survival by ~3% of the piglets born alive compared to untreated control litters. Analysis of the relationship between birth weight and IC values indicated that split-suckle treatment preferentially increased IC values in low birth weight piglets (P </= 0.05). Similar to previously reported results, preweaning survival was affected by both birth weight (P </= 0.01) and IC values (P </= 0.01). Examination of the interrelationships between birth weight, IC values and preweaning survival indicated that survival decreased dramatically below an IC threshold of 0.05 (the IC is a ratio so it has no units), although survival was also dependent on birth weight. Split-suckle treatment tended to reduce the number of piglets below an IC threshold of 0.05, particularly in low birth weight piglets. Analysis of the effect of split-suckle treatment on survival, after fitting either IC values or whether IC was below threshold, indicated that the improvement in survival from split-suckle treatment was reduced with these covariates while remaining significant. These results indicate that split-suckle treatment improves piglet survival and access to colostrum from the sow and that this improved access contributes to improved survival. However, the results also indicate that a portion of the improved survival from split-suckle treatment is independent of colostrum access.