The Thai Journal of Veterinary Medicine


Post-partum and lactation are the most complex periods in the swine production chain. Newborn pigs are highly vulnerable due to relatively low body weight at birth and physiological immaturity. Most of the management strategies performed in farrowing houses are oriented to ensure a proper level of colostrum intake by the piglets. Colostrum is essential as an energy source and to provide passive immunity to piglets. Different farrowing supervising protocols have been comprehensively investigated to reduce early mortality as well as to assist newborn piglets in obtaining an optimal amount of colostrum and milk. However, little is known of the benefits of oral supplementation in newborn piglets. Cross-fostering is also widely performed in general swine commercial herds to deal with highly prolific sows and has a strong impact on piglet survival. In order to prepare piglets for weaning, creep feeding is provided after the first week of lactation. Although the number of animals that actually consume the creep feed is not clear, creep feed consumption might influence feed intake after weaning. Finally, the attitude and skills of a stockperson might play an important role in the piglet’s ability to cope with stressors. Positive and gentle human contact with newborn piglets might positively influence the piglets’ emotional response to human handling and thus their welfare. The objective of this review was to present the most relevant management strategies performed in farrowing houses (i.e. oral supplementation, farrowing supervision, cross-fostering, creep feeding, and human-animal interaction) and their effect on piglet pre-weaning mortality and growth.

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