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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Colostrum and piglet health.

Piglets are the seed of the farm,thus next generation depends on the health status of these piglets. Piglets are the seed capital of any farm,as they have it all in them to become full value pigs or great replacement gilts. The breeding of high numbers of healthy piglets ensures a sound financial future and continuity of farm but it takes a lot of work to ensure the piglets are healthy. The piglets are very vulnerable to diseases,changes in temperature,and other environmental conditions thus making them the weakest link on the farm. Piglets must be properly taken care of from day one until they are weaned. The first line of action is to ensure the piglets are clean and kept warm,this must be followed by ensuring colostrum is given so as to confer immunity on piglets through to weaning . Piglets are born without any immune protection and it takes a couple of weeks before they can build their own active immunity. The only way to protect them in these critical weeks is through passive immunity supplied by the sow. Colostrum is the first milk secreted,and a sufficient colostrum intake in the first hours after birth is one of the most important success factors for pig performance. Colostrum does not only provide the vital energy and proteins essential for the piglets to start suckling and to grow, it is also enriched with the maternal antibodies (immunoglobulins) which provide passive immunity. Naturally, maternal antibodies are built when a sow gets infected with a pathogen. A safer and more consistent way to induce maternal antibodies is by sow vaccination. Colostrum intake depends on the amount of colostrum produced by the sow and the ability of the piglet to suckle as colostrum excretion starts shortly before parturition and ends about 24 hours after farrowing. The first 6 hours are critical, and after 24 hours the gut closes not allowing the immunoglobulins to be absorbed. In contrast to milk yield, colostrum yield is not related to litter size, so the larger the litter the lower the amount of colostrum per pig . A study revealed that up to one third of the sows do not produce enough colostrum to cover the needs of all their piglets. Genetic factors have an influence on the potential of sows to produce colostrum and during gestation and around farrowing you can ensure that the sows can exploit that potential to a maximum. Sows with heavy litters at birth with little weight variation usually have a high colostrum yield. A good body condition of the sow during gestation and at farrowing will reduce within-litter variation in birth weight and prevents metabolic disorders which may cause mastitis and can lead to a reduced colostrum yield. Proper feeding from day 85 upwards is more relevant than in mid gestation as in late gestation new mammary tissue is produced and the piglet’s birth weight is established. The benefits of colostrum