No pig left behind

Many farms still struggle with preventing stillbirths and reducing preweaning mortalities. Here’s what veterinarian Larry Coleman recommends to improve the number of piglets weaned.

America’s pig farmers have made solid progress in increasing pigs born per sow, however, the same positive trend in the percentage of total pigs born alive at weaning, firmly states Larry Coleman, DVM, speaking at the American Association of Swine Veterinarians annual meeting.

A large database from Swine Management Services reveals piglets weaned per litter have moved from approximately 9.17 pigs weaned per litter to 10.96 pigs over the last 12 years. A few of the reasons for this increase are improved genetics, improved nutrition and improved management. Unfortunately, these increases in sow productivity have not always been accom­panied by an increase in the percentage of total born piglets that are alive at weaning. In fact, the same SMS database indicates that piglet survival at weaning today is at 78.8%, while 12 years ago it was at 79.2%.

“Why are we losing 25% of our piglets?” asks Coleman.

Caretakers need to be motivated from the inside not outside to improve piglet survival rate. Maternity wards require individuals who deeply care and develop a sense of urgency to reach a 90% piglet survival rate.

Many techniques have been developed over the years to save a higher percentage of piglets born. Unfortunately, many farms still struggle with implementing strategies to prevent stillbirths and reduce preweaning mortalities. 

Here’s what Coleman recommends as proven strategies to save piglets.

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