Danes Cut Pre-Weaning Mortality through Breeding

15 February 2012, at 11:14am

ANALYSIS - By including piglet survival rate at five days of age as a breeding objective, researchers at the University of Aarhus in Denmark have already had success in cutting pre-weaning mortality from its previous 25 per cent, writes senior editor, Jackie Linden.

According to a University of Aarhus report, it was not unusual for 25 per cent of Danish piglets to die before weaning, mostly within the first few days of life. Furthermore, the mortality rate was on the rise as the main focus of the breeding programme had been on numbers born.

The University had identified a number of alternatives for reducing the mortality rate, one of which was through the use of genetic tools and as early as 2004, the industry had begun to adjusted its breeding objectives to take into account piglet survival rates to five days of age.

Senior scientist, Peer Berg, from Aarhus University who is one of the geneticists behind the founding research, commented: "The report confirms that the introduction of the day five breeding target has reduced mortality in breeding and [multiplier] herds and that this improvement, in time, is expected to be reflected in production herds.

"We can expect that the reduced mortality in the breeding and propagation herds will make it through to the production herds within the next five years," he added.

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