Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Improving Piglet Survival

Date:
September 4, 2008
Source:
Welfare Quality Project
Summary:
Neonatal mortality in pigs is a major welfare and economic concern. It is one of the issues being tackled by Welfare Quality®, an EU-funded project designed to integrate farm animal welfare into the food chain.

Several newborn piglets suckling on the mother sow.
Credit: iStockphoto/Dave Logan

Neonatal mortality in pigs is a major welfare and economic concern. It is one of the issues being tackled by Welfare Quality®, an EU-funded project designed to integrate farm animal welfare into the food chain.

Related Articles


Farmers suffer an average of 20% mortality per litter of piglets, which represents both a significant animal welfare issue and economic loss to the farmer. On average, neonatal mortality can cost farmers 2.56 piglets per litter twice per year. With current prices a farmer with a herd of 250 sows could lose more than €50,000 per year due to early piglet deaths. However, research carried out through Welfare Quality® and supported by the Scottish Government, provides practical strategies to help farmers to increase their profits while improving the quality of life for their sows and piglets.

The Importance of Genetics

Traditionally farmers have used farrowing crates to protect piglets against being accidentally crushed by the sow. However, farrowing crates are known to stress the sow and may also be involved in other types of piglet mortality, such as savaging. There have been vocal public campaigns against the use of the farrowing crate. Hence Welfare Quality® researchers have focused on the genetics of piglet mortality and whether selective breeding can improve the chances of piglet survival in loose-housed or outdoor systems. The research has shown that piglet survival can be improved in just one generation in these non-crate systems.

Researchers found that piglets who find the udder and suckle quickly have better survival rates. This early vitality combined with physical features such as the right body weight and shape all lead to improved survival rates. Piglets that were dead at birth were disproportionately long and thin while surviving piglets were more proportional with a greater fat covering.

Sow characteristics are just as important as those of the piglet when it comes to piglet survival. Piglets were more likely to survive if the sow provided them with an efficient placenta that allowed them to develop the right birth weight and shape. Poor placentas increased mortality rates. As well as selecting for sows that support the development of their piglets, we should also select for sows that show good maternal behaviour. Sows should be calm and quiet during farrowing, and lie down slowly and carefully thereby reducing the risk of accidentally crushing the piglets.

Welfare Quality® researchers studied piglets and sows that were sired from boars with high survival rates versus average survival rates. This study showed survival rates could be substantially improved when breeding from “high survival” boars. Mortality was only 12% in litters selected for high survival compared to 18% in litters selected for average survival. High survival sows were better mothers showing less crushing behaviour during farrowing than average survival sows.

Improving survival using genetic selection strategies benefits both piglet and sow welfare, as well as assisting the farmer by making substantial economic savings. Additionally, this research demonstrates the potential for phasing out of the farrowing crate in the future.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Welfare Quality Project. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Welfare Quality Project. "Improving Piglet Survival." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080901140919.htm>.
Welfare Quality Project. (2008, September 4). Improving Piglet Survival. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080901140919.htm
Welfare Quality Project. "Improving Piglet Survival." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080901140919.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Classic Hollywood Memorabilia Goes Under the Hammer

Reuters - Entertainment Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — The iconic piano from "Casablanca" and the Cowardly Lion suit from "The Wizard of Oz" fetch millions at auction. Sara Hemrajani reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Pet Dogs to Be Used in Anti-Ageing Trial

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) — Researchers in the United States are preparing to discover whether a drug commonly used in human organ transplants can extend the lifespan and health quality of pet dogs. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) — The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) — Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins