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Investigating the behavioural and physiological indicators of neonatal survival in pigs

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards


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Survival is reduced in low birth weight piglets, which display poor thermoregulatory abilities and are slow to acquire colostrum. Our aim was to identify additional behavioural and physiological indicators of piglet survival incorporating traits reflective of both the intrauterine and extrauterine environment. Data were collected from 135 piglets from 10 Large White × Landrace sows to investigate which physiological measurements (e.g. individual placental traits), and which behavioural measurements (e.g. the quantification of piglet vigour), were the best indicators of piglet survival. Generalised linear models confirmed piglet birth weight as a critical survival factor. However, with respect to stillborn mortality, piglet shape and size, as measured by ponderal index (birth weight/(crown-rump length)3), body mass index (birth weight/(crown-rump length)2), respectively, and farrowing birth order were better indicators. With respect to live-born mortality, postnatal survival factors identified as crucial were birth weight, vigour independent of birth weight, and the latency to first suckle. These results highlight the importance of the intrauterine environment for postnatal physiological and behavioural adaptation and identify additional factors influencing piglet neonatal survival. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Baxter EM, Jarvis S, D'Eath RB, Ross DW, Robson SK, Farish M, Nevison IM, Lawrence AB, Edwards SA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Theriogenology

Year: 2008

Volume: 69

Issue: 6

Pages: 773-783

ISSN (print): 0093-691X

Publisher: Elsevier Inc.


DOI: 10.1016/j.theriogenology.2007.12.007

PubMed id: 18242685


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