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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 #385233

Research Project: Improving Lifetime Productivity in Swine

Location: Livestock Bio-Systems

Title: Effects of drying and providing supplemental oxygen to piglets at birth on rectal temperature over the first 24 h after birth

item VANDE POL, KATHERINE - University Of Illinois
item TOLOSA, ANDRES - University Of Illinois
item BAUTISTA, RAPHAEL - University Of Illinois
item WILLARD, NAOMI - University Of Illinois
item GATES, RICHARD - 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: 5/24/2021
Publication Date: 5/31/2021
Citation: Vande Pol, K.D., Tolosa, A.F., Bautista, R.O., Willard, N.C., Gates, R.S., Shull, C.M., Brown, C.B., Alencar, S.A., Lents, C.A., Ellis, M. 2021. Effects of drying and providing supplemental oxygen to piglets at birth on rectal temperature over the first 24 h after birth. Translational Animal Science. 5(3). Article txab095.

Interpretive Summary: The process of being born can leave piglets with low blood oxygen levels. Because newborn piglets are wet, they experience loss of body heat for several hours after birth. These two factors can predispose piglets 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 interventions such as drying or providing supplemental oxygen to neonatal pigs affects their ability to thermoregulate and obtain colostrum milk from the mother, which contains protective antibodies against disease. Investigators found that drying newborn piglets with a desiccant helped them maintain body temperature, but that supplemental oxygen did not provide additional benefit. The smallest 11% of piglets were less successful at nursing and obtaining colostrum than larger piglets. Drying was most beneficial for helping these smaller piglets maintain body temperature, but this was not effective at helping them be more successful at obtaining colostrum. These results illustrate that intervention strategies to improve well-being of neonatal pigs are most beneficial for the smallest piglets.

Technical Abstract: Neonatal piglets can experience both a decrease in body temperature and hypoxia, increasing risks for pre-weaning mortality. This research evaluated the effects of drying and providing supplemental oxygen to newborn piglets on rectal temperature (RT) over the first 24 h after birth. The study used a CRD with 3 Intervention Treatments (IT; applied at birth): Control (no intervention), Drying (dried using a desiccant), Oxygen [dried using a desiccant and placed in a chamber (at 40% oxygen concentration) for 20 min]. A total of 42 litters (485 piglets) were randomly allotted to treatments at the start of farrowing. At birth, each piglet was given a numbered ear tag, weighed, and the treatment was applied; RT was measured at 0, 20, 30, 45, 60, 120, and 1440 min after birth. Blood was collected from one piglet from each birth weight quartile within each litter at 24 h after birth to measure plasma immunocrit concentration. There was no effect (P > 0.05) of IT on piglet RT at 0 or 1440 min after birth. Between 20 and 60 min after birth, piglet RT was lower (P = 0.05) for the Control than the Drying treatment, with the Oxygen treatment being intermediate and different (P = 0.05) from the other two IT. The effect of piglet birth weight on responses to IT were evaluated by classifying piglets into Birth Weight Categories (BWC): Light (< 1.0 kg), Medium (1.0 to 1.5 kg), or Heavy (> 1.5 kg). There were IT by BWC interactions (P = 0.05) for piglet RT at all measurement times between 20 and 120 min after birth. Relative to the Control, the effects of the Drying and Oxygen treatments on RT were greater (P = 0.05) for Light than heavier piglets. Plasma immunocrit concentrations tended (P = 0.07) to be greater for piglets on the Control treatment compared to the other two IT and were lower (P = 0.05) for Light than Heavy piglets, with Medium piglets being intermediate and different (P = 0.05) to the other BWC. In conclusion, drying piglets at birth reduced the extent and duration of RT decline in piglets in the early postnatal period compared to undried piglets, especially for those of low birth weight. However, the combination of drying and placing piglets in an oxygen-rich environment provided no additional benefit over drying alone.