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Effect of split nursing on variation in pig growth from birth to weaning

Tara S. Donovan DVM1 and Steve S. Dritz DVM, PhD2
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  • 1 Food Animal Health and Management Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.
  • | 2 Food Animal Health and Management Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS 66506.

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of split nursing (ie, removal of the larger pigs in a litter from the dam for a short period within 24 hours after birth to allow the smaller pigs in the litter uninhibited access to the dam) on variation in growth from birth to weaning among pigs.

Design—Clinical trial.

Animals—1,193 pigs in 118 litters.

Procedure—Litters were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups: control group (pigs were not split nursed), group 1 (heaviest 50% of pigs in the litter were removed from the sow for 2 hours), or group 2 (heaviest 50% of pigs were removed from the sow for 2 hours and, after the heaviest pigs were returned to the sow, the lightest 50% of pigs were removed for 2 hours). Birth weights and weaning weights were measured.

Results—Significant differences in average daily gain (ADG), weaning weight, or serum IgG concentration among groups were not detected. However, significant linear improvements in the SD and coefficient of variation of the ADG were detected, but only for litters with ≥ 9 pigs born alive. Percentages of pigs from split-nursed litters that weighed < 3.6 kg (8 lb) at weaning (1.3 and 1.6% for groups 1 and 2, respectively) were lower than percentage of control pigs that did (3%).

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that split nursing will decrease variation in ADG of pigs from birth to weaning but only for pigs from litters with ≥ 9 pigs born alive. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:79–81)

Abstract

Objective—To determine the effect of split nursing (ie, removal of the larger pigs in a litter from the dam for a short period within 24 hours after birth to allow the smaller pigs in the litter uninhibited access to the dam) on variation in growth from birth to weaning among pigs.

Design—Clinical trial.

Animals—1,193 pigs in 118 litters.

Procedure—Litters were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups: control group (pigs were not split nursed), group 1 (heaviest 50% of pigs in the litter were removed from the sow for 2 hours), or group 2 (heaviest 50% of pigs were removed from the sow for 2 hours and, after the heaviest pigs were returned to the sow, the lightest 50% of pigs were removed for 2 hours). Birth weights and weaning weights were measured.

Results—Significant differences in average daily gain (ADG), weaning weight, or serum IgG concentration among groups were not detected. However, significant linear improvements in the SD and coefficient of variation of the ADG were detected, but only for litters with ≥ 9 pigs born alive. Percentages of pigs from split-nursed litters that weighed < 3.6 kg (8 lb) at weaning (1.3 and 1.6% for groups 1 and 2, respectively) were lower than percentage of control pigs that did (3%).

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance—Results suggest that split nursing will decrease variation in ADG of pigs from birth to weaning but only for pigs from litters with ≥ 9 pigs born alive. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:79–81)