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Planned and managed farrowing will improve piglet survival and output

by 5m Editor
14 May 2007, at 11:30am

UK - Several factors affect potential piglet output, said BPEX's Angela Cliff at an Improving Piglet Survival workshop held at Wood Veterinary Hospital in Gloucestershire.

Speaking to producers and industry representatives Ms Cliff said that stillbirths accounted for the obvious drop in output, with 5-7% considered normal.

"However, alongside this, maintaining piglet viability through to weaning is crucial," she said. Any reduced piglet performance also reflected on final figures, particularly in terms of reduced weaning performance and disease, said Ms Cliff.

She advised producers to use use farm records to predict correct farrowing dates.

"You need to calculate the average gestation length of sows. By doing this, farrowing can be planned and managed better," she said.

Signs of farrowing

In most instances it is advisable to move sows into the farrowing house at least three days before due dates when records are looked at and sows monitored. Signs of farrowing could be noticed up to 10 days before birthing, with enlarged mammary glands and swelling of the vulva, and producers should take this into consideration.

Ms Cliff said that the main cause of stillbirths was prolonged farrowing. "Length of farrowing depends on several factors, particularly on sow parity, as younger sows have shorter farrowing periods. Supervised farrowing is critical in reducing stillbirths. Stockmen should monitor those animals who fall into the risk bracket, such as older sows or those with a history of large litters or prolonged farrowing in the past," she said.

The workshop attracted more than 30 people and prompted great debate between producers, vets and production advisers. "We hold these events once or twice a year to give producers the chance to talk to others in the area and share knowledge," said Roger Blowey, practicve vet.

5m Editor