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Factors influencing piglet pre-weaning mortality in 47 commercial swine herds in Thailand

Nuntapaitoon, Morakot, Tummaruk, Padet
Tropical animal health and production 2018 v.50 no.1 pp. 129-135
databases, environmental factors, herd size, lactation, linear models, low birth weight, mortality, piglets, risk, sows, tropics, weaning, Thailand
The present study aims to determine the occurrence of piglet pre-weaning mortality in commercial swine herds in Thailand in relation to piglet, sow, and environmental factors. Data were collected from the database of the computerized recording system from 47 commercial swine herds in Thailand. The raw data were carefully scrutinized for accuracy. Litters with a lactation length < 16 days or >28 days were excluded. In total, 199,918 litters from 74,088 sows were included in the analyses. Piglet pre-weaning mortality at the individual sow level was calculated as piglet pre-weaning mortality (%) = (number of littermate pigs − number of piglets at weaning) / number of littermate pigs. Litters were classified according to sow parity numbers (1, 2–5, and 6–9), average birth weight of the piglets (0.80–1.29, 1.30–1.79, 1.80–2.50 kg), number of littermate pigs (5–7, 8–10, 11–12, and 13–15 piglets), and size of the herd (small, medium, and large). Pearson correlations were conducted to analyze the associations between piglet pre-weaning mortality and reproductive parameters. Additionally, a general linear model procedure was performed to analyze the various factors influencing piglet pre-weaning mortality. On average, piglet pre-weaning mortality was 11.2% (median = 9.1%) and varied among herds from 4.8 to 19.2%. Among all the litters, 62.1, 18.1, and 19.8% of the litters had a piglet pre-weaning mortality rate of 0–10, 11–20, and greater than 20%, respectively. As the number of littermate pigs increased, piglet pre-weaning mortality also increased (r = 0.390, P < 0.001). Litters with 13–16 littermate pigs had a higher piglet pre-weaning mortality than litters with 5–7, 8–10, and 11–12 littermate pigs (20.8, 7.8, 7.2, and 11.2%, respectively; P < 0.001). Piglet pre-weaning mortality in large-sized herds was higher than that in small- and medium-sized herds (13.6, 10.6, and 11.2%, respectively; P < 0.001). Interestingly, in all categories of herd size, piglet pre-weaning mortality was increased almost two times when the number of littermates increased from 11–12 to 13–16 piglets. Furthermore, piglets with birth weights of 0.80–1.29 kg in large-sized herds had a higher risk of mortality than those in small- and medium-sized herds (15.3, 10.9, and 12.2%, respectively, P < 0.001). In conclusion, in commercial swine herds in the tropics, piglet pre-weaning mortality averaged 11.2% and varied among herds from 4.8 to 19.2%. The litters with 13–16 littermate pigs had piglet pre-weaning mortality of up to 20.8%. Piglets with low birth weight (0.80–1.29 kg) had a higher risk of pre-weaning mortality. Management strategies for reducing piglet pre-weaning mortality in tropical climates should be emphasized in litters with a high number of littermate pigs, low piglet birth weights, and large herd sizes.