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The effect of double nursing, an alternative nursing strategy for the hyper-prolific sow herd, on herd performance

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ABSTRACT

Background: Hyper-prolific sows produce more piglets than they can suckle, as the number of milk producing teats of the sow is lower (twelve to sixteen) than the number of live born piglets per litter. Farmers and farm workers are struggling to feed this surplus of piglets. To minimize suckling piglet mortality, litter size at 24 hours after parturition should not exceed the number of functional teats of the sow. Strategies to adequately nurse or feed the surplus of piglets after 24 hours are limited and mostly restricted to either fostering piglets by other sows, supplying milk replacers (formula) or early weaning and rearing on formula.

Case presentation: In this case report we describe the design and application of a so called ‘double nursing’ strategy, for which one sow simultaneously nurses two litters from birth to weaning. Piglet mortality and reproductive parameters of sows that have nursed two litters are compared, over a three year period, with those that nursed one litter.

Conclusion: In this herd, the double nursing strategy appeared to be a successful strategy. Double nursing sows experienced a lower piglet mortality, despite the double nursing strategy. The negative effects on reproduction proved to be limited, there was a negative effect on litter size in subsequent litters, but no significant effect on the interval weaning to next conception. It has to be noted though that not all characteristics on which double nursing selection takes place, could be taken into account during statistical analyses.

No MeSH data available.


Distribution (%) of the number of piglets weaned per sow per lactation in three years (2013–2015) of all recorded nursings (N = 3,907). In the distribution of the number of weaned piglets per sow two groups can be identified. Sows that nurse and wean one litter and DNS that nurse and wean two litters
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Fig2: Distribution (%) of the number of piglets weaned per sow per lactation in three years (2013–2015) of all recorded nursings (N = 3,907). In the distribution of the number of weaned piglets per sow two groups can be identified. Sows that nurse and wean one litter and DNS that nurse and wean two litters

Mentions: As the selection of double nursing sows was done by the farmer based on defined sow characteristics and not by random assignment, the frequency of double nursing was not equal in all parities. In 3 years 307 out of 3,907 (=7.9%) lactations were DN lactations (Table 1). 2,841 were SN (=72.7%) and 759 nursings (=19.4%) belonged to the group “OTHERS”. DNS were mainly selected from sows of parity 2 to 5 (Table 1). DNS were frequently selected again for DN in the subsequent lactation. When a subsequent lactation was present for DNS (N = 250), DN was applied again in 25.2% (N = 63) of the sows. 57.2% was SN in the subsequent lactation (N = 143) and 17.6% (N = 44) belonged to the group “OTHERS”. In Fig. 2 the distribution of number of piglets weaned sow per lactation of all nursings in three years (2013–2015) is shown (N = 3,907).Table 1


The effect of double nursing, an alternative nursing strategy for the hyper-prolific sow herd, on herd performance
Distribution (%) of the number of piglets weaned per sow per lactation in three years (2013–2015) of all recorded nursings (N = 3,907). In the distribution of the number of weaned piglets per sow two groups can be identified. Sows that nurse and wean one litter and DNS that nurse and wean two litters
© Copyright Policy - OpenAccess
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5382526&req=5

Fig2: Distribution (%) of the number of piglets weaned per sow per lactation in three years (2013–2015) of all recorded nursings (N = 3,907). In the distribution of the number of weaned piglets per sow two groups can be identified. Sows that nurse and wean one litter and DNS that nurse and wean two litters
Mentions: As the selection of double nursing sows was done by the farmer based on defined sow characteristics and not by random assignment, the frequency of double nursing was not equal in all parities. In 3 years 307 out of 3,907 (=7.9%) lactations were DN lactations (Table 1). 2,841 were SN (=72.7%) and 759 nursings (=19.4%) belonged to the group “OTHERS”. DNS were mainly selected from sows of parity 2 to 5 (Table 1). DNS were frequently selected again for DN in the subsequent lactation. When a subsequent lactation was present for DNS (N = 250), DN was applied again in 25.2% (N = 63) of the sows. 57.2% was SN in the subsequent lactation (N = 143) and 17.6% (N = 44) belonged to the group “OTHERS”. In Fig. 2 the distribution of number of piglets weaned sow per lactation of all nursings in three years (2013–2015) is shown (N = 3,907).Table 1

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background: Hyper-prolific sows produce more piglets than they can suckle, as the number of milk producing teats of the sow is lower (twelve to sixteen) than the number of live born piglets per litter. Farmers and farm workers are struggling to feed this surplus of piglets. To minimize suckling piglet mortality, litter size at 24 hours after parturition should not exceed the number of functional teats of the sow. Strategies to adequately nurse or feed the surplus of piglets after 24 hours are limited and mostly restricted to either fostering piglets by other sows, supplying milk replacers (formula) or early weaning and rearing on formula.

Case presentation: In this case report we describe the design and application of a so called ‘double nursing’ strategy, for which one sow simultaneously nurses two litters from birth to weaning. Piglet mortality and reproductive parameters of sows that have nursed two litters are compared, over a three year period, with those that nursed one litter.

Conclusion: In this herd, the double nursing strategy appeared to be a successful strategy. Double nursing sows experienced a lower piglet mortality, despite the double nursing strategy. The negative effects on reproduction proved to be limited, there was a negative effect on litter size in subsequent litters, but no significant effect on the interval weaning to next conception. It has to be noted though that not all characteristics on which double nursing selection takes place, could be taken into account during statistical analyses.

No MeSH data available.