Top tips to reduce stillborns and sow mortality

Paying more attention to condition scores of older and problem sows could help producers reduce the number of stillborns and pig mortality during farrowing.

Speaking at the Pig Congress in Herning, Denmark, Flemming Thorup, chief scientist at the Pig Research Centre, said sows older than their third parity or those who had four stillbirths in previous farrows were at an increased risk of stillbirths.

But monitoring their body condition to ensure a score of two or three helped give sows the best chance during farrowing and in milk production for piglets.

Mr Thorup said giving problem sows extra assistance during farrowing would help reduce mortality.

“Have a person entirely responsible and focused on farrowing, that way, if things go wrong, there is someone there straight away to intervene,” he said. “Normal farrowing lasts four to seven hours, but if it’s taking longer or if 10% of the piglets are stillborn, intervene.”

Mr Thorup said two hours between each of the first four piglets should be left before intervention.

You should also assist after one hour without piglets after piglet number four, he added.

He suggested the following top tips for reducing stillborns and pig mortality:

Reducing stillborns

1. Make one person responsible for farrowing and ensure they are there all the time

2. Ensure optimal feeding prior to farrowing to assure the best possible condition

3. Monitor pigs every 60 minutes during farrowing, or every 30 minutes for problem sows

Ways to reduce pig mortality

1. Control mastitis, metritis and agalactia

2. Give colostrum to all piglets

3. Use two-step fostering after piglets are 21 weeks old

4. Check every piglet every day

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