Animal-related factors associated with piglet mortality in a bedded, group-farrowing system

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To understand pre-weaning mortality of piglets in a bedded, groupfarrowing system, associations with sow parity, mortality of piglets during the first 24 h after birth, farrowing behavior, cross-fostering, birth weight and gender of piglets were investigated. Sows (n = 169, parity 1 to 10) from eight contemporary groups were evaluated. Litter size at birth, dead piglets from birth to weaning, and individual weight of piglets at birth and weaning (27±2.6 d) were recorded. Behavior of 46 focal sows during farrowing was video-recorded. Piglet mortality within litter increased (P<.001) with increasing parity. Piglets that died before weaning were lighter (P<.001) at birth than weaned piglets. Mortality of pigs during the first 24 h postpartum was correlated positively with pre-weaning mortality within litter (R2=0.34; P<.001). Farrowing behaviors were not associated with piglet mortality, and were not different among sows of different parities, or between sows with and without 24 h piglet mortality. Gender of piglets and cross-fostering did not affect piglet mortality. Results indicate that parity, 24 h mortality, and birth weight of piglets were the major animal-related factors associated with piglet mortality in the loose farrowing system studied.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalCanadian Journal of Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012


  • Group-farrowing
  • Piglet mortality


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