Piglet Iron Supplementation Protocols Need Reevaluating

CANADA - Research conducted by the Ontario Veterinary College has shown changes iron supplementation protocols may be needed to ensure piglets are getting enough iron to meet their needs, writes Bruce Cochrane.
calendar icon 9 February 2015
clock icon 3 minute read

Typically, newly weaned piglets are provided an iron supplementation of 200mg at one to three days of age.

Research being conducted by the Ontario Veterinary College to reassess the iron requirements of these piglets was discussed yesterday as part of the 2015 Manitoba Swine Seminar.

Dr Terri O'Sullivan, an assistant professor with the Ontario Veterinary College, explains iron plays an important role in the overall immune function of piglets and people, and if the piglet does not get enough iron, it will become anaemic, and that can affect other functions, including the immune function, making the piglet more susceptible to diseases.

Dr Terri O'Sullivan - Ontario Veterinary College:

Part of our research that we're doing at the Ontario Veterinary College is looking to answer those questions, have the supplement requirements changed, or have they not?

We've done some work that has shown that some piglets are a bit anemic or iron deficient at weaning, and then into the nursery period, and what we would also like to try to answer is, what is the effects of that potential down the road.

That can then raise awareness that perhaps we need to reevaluate iron supplementation protocols because we do have larger litters being born and faster growing pigs, and our management has improved so much that we are seeing the same effects due to management alone.

So raising awareness that a procedure that we've done for over 30 years, that seems like we know everything we need to know, perhaps needs to be reevaluated.

Dr O'Sullivan says the 'take-home' message is that producers need to be talking to their veterinarians to discuss ways to reevaluate iron supplementation protocols.

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