Growth of Suckling Piglets in Litters Standardised by Weight

An experiment from Brazil revealed that, when litters were standardised for weight, the average daily gain of the piglets was not affected by their birth weight although those with higher birth weights maintained their bodyweight advantage to 21 days of age.
calendar icon 29 January 2014
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This study, by D. Surek of the Universidade Federal do Paraná in Curitiba, Brazil and co-authors there and at the Centro Nacional de Pesquisa em Suínos e Aves in Concórdia examined the relationship between birth weight and growth performance when suckling piglets were reared in litters standardised by birth weight.

In a paper in Journal of Animal Science, they explain that they selected 44 gilts (Landrace × Large White) due to farrow during the same week. Piglets born to those gilts were individually weighed at birth and cross-fostered to obtain litters with 11 piglets and standardised birth weight (coefficient of variation, CV, was lower than five per cent).

Based on average birth weight, four litter weight classes were established:

  • class 1 (>1.10kg to ≤1.33kg)
  • class 2 (>1.34kg to ≤1.46kg)
  • class 3 (>1.47kg to ≤1.57kg), and
  • class 4 (>1.58kg to ≤1.88kg).

At 21 days of age, piglets were weighed to determine bodyweight and calculate average daily gain and weight gain relative to birth weight. A completely randomised experimental design was used with birth weight classes as treatments.

At 21 days of age, the average bodyweight of piglets from the heaviest birth weight class (5.67kg) was greater (P<0.05) than the lightest class (5.06kg); however, all classes had the same average daily gain (P<0.05).

There was a positive correlation (r=0.184; P<0.01) between birth weight and weight at 21 days of age but birth weight was not correlated (r=-0.040; P=0.37) with average daily gain during the suckling phase.

Piglet birth weight did not influence weight gain when piglets were reared by sows in litters with standardised birth weight, concluded Surek and co-authors.


Surek D., L.N.E. Barrilli, I.J.M. Bueno, E.L. Krabbe, G.C. Alberton and A. Maiorka. 2014. Growth of suckling piglets in litters standardized by weight. J. Anim. Sci. 92(1):177-181. doi: 10.2527/jas.2013-6651

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January 2014

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