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Lene Juul Pedersen

Causes of preweaning mortality in organic outdoor sow herds

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The aims of the current study were to identify the causes of preweaning piglet mortality and investigate the effect of season and parity on the proportions of mortality causes. The study was conducted in nine herds over a one-year period, and dead piglets were collected for necropsy once during each of the four seasons. In total, 2672 piglets were necropsied of which 60% were live-born but died post-partum (pp), 32% were stillborn and 8% were euthanised. Intra-partum deaths accounted for 88% of stillborn piglets. Eighty-one percent of necropsied live-born piglets died within four days pp. Half of these had a body weight of <1 kg at the time of death. Crushed and starved piglets accounted for 83% and 9% of mortalities until day four pp, respectively. Thirty-three percent of the crushed piglets (age zero to four days) had not suckled prior to death and the proportion of these piglets was lower in summer compared to the remaining part of the year (OR = 0.6, 95% CI [0.5;0.9]) and was higher for multiparous sows compared to first parity sows (OR = 1.7, 95% CI [1.1;2.6]). In conclusion, sow parity and season affected the proportion of crushed piglets before four days of age. Furthermore, the group of crushed piglets was heterogeneous and consisted of both heavy well-fed piglets and small piglets with empty stomachs. Thus, management implementations to lower mortality may differ depending on sow parity, season and individual piglet characteristics.
Original languageEnglish
JournalResearch in Veterinary Science
Pages (from-to)171-180
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018

    Research areas

  • Crushing, Necropsy, Organic production, Piglet mortality, Stillbirth

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