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Piglets Perkier after Sow's 'Espresso' Treatment

05 September 2013

ITALY - Sows receiving an oral dose of caffeine on the day of farrowing gave birth to piglets that were more viable, according to a recently published study.

Piglets of sows receiving caffeine at induced farrowing were more vigorous after birth than those from untreated control sows.

Paola Superchi of the University of Parma in Italy and co-authors of a paper published in Livestock Science have examined the effects of oral caffeine administration to sows with induced parturition on perinatal hypoxia in piglets.

On day 113 of gestation, nine sows received 27mg per kg body weight of caffeine mixed with 200g of standard diet. The same amount of feed without the addition of caffeine was administered to nine control sows. Additionally, on day 113 of gestation, all sows were treated by two injections in the perianal area of 1mg of alfaprostol (at 8:00am and 14:00pm), and on the morning of farrowing by 14IU of oxytocin in the perianal area.

Caffeine did not affect bodyweight of piglets and size of litters; however piglets from treated sows showed a higher capacity to adapt to extra-uterine life. Particularly, they showed a greater thermoregulatory ability (P<0.001) and a higher percentage of viability score ≥7 than piglets from control sows (92 per cent vs. 75 per cent, respectively; P=0.030).

Furthermore, caffeine reduced the frequency of high serum biopterin values (>80nmol per litre) in piglets born from treated sows (P=0.001).

Caffeine orally administered to sows with induced parturition showed a protective effect on the consequences of neonatal hypoxia in tissue ischemia–reperfusion injury in piglets, concluded Superchi and co-authors.


Superchi P., C. Mazzoni, P. Zanardelli, C. Piancastelli, E.M. Zambini, V. Beretti and A. Sabbioni. 2013. Effects of oral caffeine administration to sows with induced parturition on hypoxia in piglets, Livestock Science. 22 August 2013 (10.1016/j.livsci.2013.08.003)

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