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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Livestock Bio-Systems » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #379564

Research Project: Improving Lifetime Productivity in Swine

Location: Livestock Bio-Systems

Title: Effect of drying and/or warming piglets at birth under warm farrowing room temperatures on piglet rectal temperature over the first 24 h after birth

item VANDE POL, KATHERINE - University Of Illinois
item TOLOSA, ANDRES - University Of Illinois
item SHULL, CALEB - Maschhoff'S Pork Farm
item BROWN, CATHERINE - Maschhoff'S Pork Farm
item ALENCAR, STEPHAN - Federal University Of Mato Grosso
item Lents, Clay
item ELLIS, MICHAEL - University Of Illinois

Submitted to: Translational Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/29/2021
Publication Date: 4/5/2021
Citation: Vande Pol, K.D., Tolosa, A.F., Shull, C.M., Brown, C.B., Alencar, S.A., Lents, C.A., Ellis, M. 2021. Effect of drying and/or warming piglets at birth under warm farrowing room temperatures on piglet rectal temperature over the first 24 h after birth. Translational Animal Science. Article txab060.

Interpretive Summary: Farrowing facilities house both sows and piglets, which have markedly different environmental temperature requirements. All piglets experience some loss of body heat immediately after birth, and this can predispose them to mortality both directly due to hypothermia and from secondary causes such as lack of nursing, crushing, and disease. Researchers at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with ARS scientists at Clay Center, Nebraska, studied how to minimize the loss of body heat from newborn piglets and how this affected their ability to obtain colostrum milk from the mother, which contains protective antibodies against disease. Researchers found that both drying the newborn piglets and warming them in a box for 30 minutes after birth considerably reduced their loss of body heat. Some effects on consumption of colostrum were also observed. These results provide important information about how to improve well-being of newborn piglets. The next step is to determine how these interventions improve survival of piglets.

Technical Abstract: Piglets experience a decline in body temperature immediately after birth, and both drying and warming piglets at birth reduces this. However, these interventions may have less effective at higher farrowing room temperatures. This study was carried out at a commercial facility to compare the effect of drying and/or warming piglets at birth on postnatal rectal temperature (RT) under relatively warm farrowing room temperatures (26.6 ± 2.09°C). Forty five sows/litters were used in a completely randomized design to compare three Intervention Treatments (applied at birth): Control (no treatment); Warming (piglets placed in a plastic box under a heat lamp for 30 min); Drying+Warming (piglets dried with desiccant and warmed as above). Temperatures in the warming boxes over the study period averaged 37.7 ± 2.75°C. At birth, piglets were weighed; RT temperature was measured at 0, 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 120, and 1440 min after birth. Blood samples were collected at 24 h after birth from a subsample of one piglet from each birth weight quartile within each litter to measure plasma immunocrit concentration. Data were analyzed using PROC MIXED of SAS with litter as the experimental unit; and piglet a subsample of litter. The model for analysis of piglet rectal temperature included fixed effects of treatment, measurement time (repeated measure), the interaction, and the random effect of sow. Compared to the Control, piglet RT were higher (P = 0.05) for the Warming treatment between 10 and 60 min, and higher (P = 0.05) for the Drying+Warming treatment between 10 and 120 min after birth. Rectal temperatures were higher (P = 0.05) for the Drying+Warming than the Warming treatment between 20 and 120 min. Responses to drying and/or warming were greater for low birth weight piglets (< 1.0 kg) than heavier littermates, but were generally less than observed in previous experiments with similar treatments carried out under cooler temperatures. Piglet immunocrit values were lower (P = 0.05) for the Drying+Warming treatment compared to the other treatments, which were similar (P > 0.05). Immunocrit values tended (P = 0.10) to be lower for light (< 1.0 kg) compared to heavier birth weight piglets. In conclusion, drying and warming piglets at birth was more effective for reducing piglet RT decline after birth than warming alone, though the effect was less than observed in previous studies carried out under cooler farrowing room temperatures.