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Title: The effect of farrowing induction on colostrum and piglet serum immunocrits is dependent on parity

item Vallet, Jeff
item Miles, Jeremy

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/20/2016
Publication Date: 3/3/2017
Publication URL:
Citation: Vallet, J.L., Miles, J.R. 2017. The effect of farrowing induction on colostrum and piglet serum immunocrits is dependent on parity. Journal of Animal Science. 95(2):688-696. doi:10.2527/jas.2016.0993.

Interpretive Summary: Farrowing induction is routinely used by many producers to manage farrowing sows and the labor associated with them. Most reports indicate that farrowing induction at approximately the normal time of farrowing (day 114 of pregnancy) does not have detrimental effects on either the sow or piglets, but the effects of farrowing induction on colostrum quality have not been well studied. We induced farrowing at 114 days of pregnancy in gilts and sows having up to their fourth litter of piglets, and compared them to females allowed to farrow normally up to 116 days of gestation, at which time farrowing was induced. In a subset of females, colostrum (first milk) samples were collected after the birth of the first piglet, and at 4, 8, 12 and 24 hours later. We measured immunoglobulin G in the samples, which is the primary protein component in colostrum and provides immunity to newborn piglets. Immunoglobulin G in colostrum samples were less in day 114 induced females compared to those allowed to farrow naturally and/or induced on day 116. We also measured immunoglobulin G in all newborn piglets to measure transfer of the immunoglobulin to the piglet. Immunoglobulin G in piglets of females having their first litter were not affected by induction on day 114, but piglets from females having their second or later litters had less immunoglobulin, corresponding to the reduction in immunoglobulin G in the colostrum. Despite reductions in immunoglobulin G transfer to piglets in females experiencing their second or later litters, preweaning survival was not affected. These results indicate that induction of farrowing on day 114 of gestation reduces colostrum immunoglobulin concentrations in farrowing females, and reduces the transfer of immunoglobulin to piglets from older females. Although preweaning survival was not affected in this experiment, producers may wish to reconsider the use of routine farrowing induction in older females if they are experiencing a challenging piglet health environment.

Technical Abstract: Farrowing induction is a common practice among swine producers to manage timing of farrowing and the labor associated with farrowing. In this experiment, the effect of induction of labor using cloprostenol on day 114 of gestation (n = 88) was compared to our standard farrowing protocol at USMARC (natural farrowing with induction using cloprostenol on day 116 if needed, n = 83) in gilts and sows up to fourth parity. In a subset of dams (n = 10 each treatment), colostrum was collected within 30 minutes of birth of the first piglet, and at 4, 8, 12 and 24 h. Colostrum samples were measured for immunoglobulin G (IgG) using the immunoglobulin immunocrit and porcine IgG specific ELISA, and for total protein. Blood samples were collected from each live piglet on d 1 of age and measured using the immunocrit assay, and average immunocrit was calculated for each litter. Total piglets born and born alive, birth and weaning weights, and the stillbirth rate and preweaning mortality rate were also recorded for each litter. Results indicated that induction of farrowing by cloprostenol treatment on d 114 reduced average gestation length by 0.5 to 1 day depending on parity, and reduced overall colostrum IgG and total protein. Litter average immunocrits were similar in gilts between treatments, but were reduced in later parity sows induced to farrow using cloprostenol on d 114 of gestation. Total born, born alive, birth and weaning weights, and stillbirth and preweaning mortality rates were unaffected by treatments. In conclusion, induction of farrowing using cloprostenol injection on d 114 reduced colostrum IgG concentrations in dams, and this was reflected in a reduction in litter average immunocrit only in later parity sows. This reduction in litter average immunocrit was not sufficient to influence preweaning mortality, but other effects are possible given the reported influence of colostrum on growth and reproductive traits.