Farrowing room production protocols that can impact your bottom line: Part 2

How to improve colostrum intake of piglets resulting in improved immunity.

In the world of pork production we all know that in order to make a profit there are numerous variables to consider. The price of inputs and market value, both of which are influenced by many factors, indicate if your bottom line is a profit or loss. One thing that we know is that if we don’t have a product to start with, we won’t have anything sell regardless of input costs or market value. This is where the farrowing room protocols and stock people come into play.

In the farrowing room stockpersons are concerned with the number of piglets born alive and also assume the responsibility for keeping those piglets alive. Certain good production practices such as providing proper colostrum intake for all piglets have huge benefits when it comes to building immunity in the piglets and responding to health challenges.

At a 600 sow farrow to feeder operation a research trial was done in 2013 by Nguyen to determine if induced farrowings resulted in increased colostrum intake for piglets, ensuing an improved immunity response. This was measured by blood samples taken to verify the serum concentration levels of immunoglobulin G (lgG).

Animals in the trial were split into two treatment groups. Group one had 56 sows that were induced at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. on day 114. The second treatment group was made up of 84 sows that were allowed to naturally farrow. The first treatment group received enhanced day one pig care including; drying and warming of piglets as well as ensuring that each piglet received colostrum, as these practices would be a benefit of attended farrowings. The second treatment was the control group which was observed twice daily at feeding time, where assistance was given if needed at that time and no additional care was given to piglets. Blood samples were taken from pigs on day three of age to determine serum levels of lgG. It was found that levels of lgG did indeed differ between the control and induced sow groupings. In the induced or treatment group one sows 59 percent of the piglets had high levels of lgG, whereas 37 percent of the piglets from the control or treatment group two sows had high levels of lgG.

The serum concentration levels of lgG differed amongst piglets in the trial, with piglets from the induced grouping of sows recording the higher levels of lgG. This indicates that serum lgG levels do increase when sows are scheduled to farrow. It was also found that heavier pigs, as well as piglets from litters with a small number also had higher levels of lgG. This trial also indicated that birth order of piglets and sow parity had no effect on colostrum intake.

It can be concluded that attended farrowings benefit production numbers by allowing for improved colostrum intake by piglets, resulting in improve immunity. This practice allows stockpersons to give enhanced care to piglets, resulting in better responses to health challenges do to proper colostrum intake.

Michigan State University Extension educators remind producers that although enhanced day one piglet care can improve the viability of piglets there are many management practices employed through the lactation period that should also be considered. Such practices can have strong influences on pre-wean mortality and health of the piglet. It is important to remember that various factors and stockmanship areas affect the productivity of an operation. Proper training and review of protocols can help assist with evaluation of a farms productivity.

A complete article regarding the production practice of attending farrowings can be found at http://pork.msue.msu.edu/pork/pork_quarterly.

Other stories in this series:

Farrowing room production protocols that can impact your bottom line: Part 1

Did you find this article useful?