Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Improving Piglet Survival

02.09.2008
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.

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.

Jacqueline Vredenbregt | alfa
Further information:
http://www.welfarequality.net

Further reports about: Piglet early piglet deaths food chain integrate farm

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht New study shows producers where and how to grow cellulosic biofuel crops
17.01.2018 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences

nachricht Robotic weeders: to a farm near you?
10.01.2018 | American Society of Agronomy

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Artificial agent designs quantum experiments

On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.

We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Let the good tubes roll

19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences

How cancer metastasis happens: Researchers reveal a key mechanism

19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine

Meteoritic stardust unlocks timing of supernova dust formation

19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>