No methods have been published for repeated blood sampling via an ear vein in grouphoused sows. Therefore, the objective of this study was to develop a minimally invasive technique for the insertion of an ear vein catheter for repeated blood sampling in group-housed peripartum sows while minimizing any impact on production performance. Thirty-three multiparous pregnant sows were used including 18 catheterized sows and 15 control sows. In a group-farrowing barn, sows (8/room) shared a communal area and farrowed in individual, free-access pens. Treatment sows were anesthetized, and 1 ear was prepared aseptically 2 to 4 d before their expected farrowing date. A sterile needle was inserted into the largest and straightest portion of the vein, and the catheter, which was medical-grade microbore tubing, was inserted through the needle at least 24 cm. The needle was withdrawn, and the catheter was fixed into position and sutured to the ear. A blunt-end probe point cannula was glued onto the distal end of the catheter, and an adaptor injection cap with male Luer lock was placed on the end. The catheter was coiled and placed in a protective purse, which was cemented directly to the skin on the back of the shoulders. The catheter was flushed with heparinized saline to ensure patency. Once sows were able to stand, an elastic bandage was wrapped around the neck and upper body of the sow to hold the protective purse and exposed catheter in position. Blood samples were collected every 24 h, and catheters were flushed with heparinized saline after each collection. Fourteen of the 18 insertions were successful, and 11 of those remained functional for 4 d or more. Differences were not observed in reproductive performance between catheterized and noncatheterized sows.
- Ear vein