Post-partum Deaths: Piglet, Placental and Umbilical Characteristics04 September 2013
New research from Norway reveals that that uterine capacity limits litter size and that both the area and weight of the placenta affect pre-weaning mortality of the piglets.
Foetal growth of the piglet is highly dependent on its placenta, and the newborn piglet birth weight is highly associated with post-partum death. However, Vibeke Rootwelt and colleagues at Norwegian School of Veterinary Science in Oslo report in Journal of Animal Science that there is little information available in the literature on the assessment of the placenta in relation to post-partum death in piglets.
The aim of their study was to evaluate the impact of the placental area and placental weight, status of the umbilical cord and piglet birth characteristics, such as blood parameters, vitality score and birth weight on mortality among suckling piglets.
All live born piglets in litters from 26 Landrace × Yorkshire sows were monitored during farrowing and the status of each was recorded, including placental area and placental weight and blood variables obtained from the piglets and umbilical veins.
Out of the 386 live-born piglets, 16.8 per cent died before weaning at five weeks of age. Among these, 78.5 per cent died within the first three days of life.
Mean blood concentration of lactate was increased in piglets that did not survive to weaning (P=0.003). Concentrations of haemoglobin and haematocrit were decreased (P<0.001) compared with survivors.
Piglets born with a broken umbilical cord had a lower vitality score than piglets born with an intact umbilical cord (P=0.021), and they had an increased probability of dying before weaning (P=0.050).
Mean birth weight, body mass index, placental area (P<0.001) and placental weight (P=0.020) were reduced in piglets that died before weaning than those that survived. Birth weight and placental area were also negatively associated with live litter size.
Blood concentrations of IgG and albumin recorded on day 1 were lower in piglets that died before weaning (P<0.01), and blood concentration of albumin was positively associated with placental area (P<0.001).
The Oslo-based group conclude that placental area and placental weight, status of the umbilical cord, birth weight, body mass index, blood concentrations of lactate, haemoglobin and haematocrit recorded at birth, and blood concentrations of IgG and albumin recorded on day 1 were associated with post-partum death in their study.
These results may indicate that there is an upper uterine limitation of litter size and that placental area and placental weight influence post-partum survival, added Rootwelt and colleagues.
Rootwelt V., O. Reksen, W. Farstad and T. Framstad. 2013. Postpartum deaths: Piglet, placental, and umbilical characteristics. J. Anim. Sci. 91(6):2647-2656. 10.2527/jas.2012-5531
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