Colostrum Key for Piglet Survival

UK - Maternal colostrum is vital for newborn piglets as both their primary energy supply and for immune protection.
calendar icon 29 March 2011
clock icon 3 minute read

Yannig Le Treut, of French nutrition company Lallemand, left no doubt as to why pig producers must ensure quick and adequate colostrum during three conferences last week.

More than 300 producers attended the Two-Tonne Sow (2TS) Focus on Farrowing conferences, organised by the BPEX Knowledge Transfer team. Yannig was one of four technical experts who joined local pig producers to discuss management of both the sow and piglet to deliver a strong litter through to weaning.

Yannig said: “Colostrum provides energy and immune protection as well as helping the gut mature in the first few hours of life, which is one of its lesser-known functions. It is essential that the piglet has its first colostrum intake as quickly as possible as its body fat reserves and glycogen levels are very low at birth, making colostrum its main source of energy. It cannot survive without it.

“The best pig producers spend a lot of time with a newborn litter making sure that all the piglets, particularly the weakest, get to suckle, ideally within the first six hours. After that, the quality and level of immunity colostrum provides reduces rapidly.

“Where practical, producers should not cross-foster until at least 24 hours after birth as maternal colostrum intake must be the priority. Just mark the piglets ready for moving later. It is important that piglets drink colostrum from their own mothers, which ensures that piglets are equipped with the exactly the same type and level of immune protection as the sow.“

One producer said afterwards: “We always learn something new from BPEX meetings and this was a really excellent event. We will be re-thinking how quickly we start cross-fostering piglets and make sure they have had enough maternal colostrum first.“

To view the full presentations from Yannig and all the conference speakers please click here. Also check with regional knowledge transfer managers for details of local meetings where there will be more discussion of these topics.

The three events were held in Cirencester, Stowmarket and Wetherby, drawing in the largest number delegates of all the BPEX producer conferences to date.

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