The impact of drenching on the pre-weaning resilience of low birth weight piglets
In modern pork production, the selection for larger litters has not only resulted in more piglets per sow, but also in an increased proportion of low birth weight (LBW) piglets which are associated with a higher perinatal mortality. This thesis’ scope was to enhance the resilience (the capacity to recover in terms of performance and survival) of LBW piglets during the pre-weaning period through drenching, the oral administration of substances. During a first study, LBW piglets were sham drenched to evaluate the safety of handling during drenching. No harmful or positive effect of drenching was observed, and thus, it was concluded that drenching is a safe tool that can be implemented in a good pre-weaning management. In a second field-trial, LBW piglets were drenched with bovine colostrum, short-chain fructo-oligosaccharides (scFOS) or quercetin (each dissolved in a plain milk replacer) during the first seven days after birth. None of the supplemented compounds had a positive effect on the LBW piglets’ resilience. Moreover, a negative effect on survival was observed in piglets that were drenched with scFOS. These results showed that the evaluated bioactive compounds, in their given dosages, were unable to improve the LBW piglets’ survival and emphasised the complex, multifactorial origin of pre-weaning mortality. A final study aimed to determine whether the performance of LBW piglets could be improved by drenching a dense, concentrated milk replacer (DMR), and whether the frequency of drenching and the severity of the LBW played a role. Secondly, this study compared the supplementation of the same milk replacer at two farms with different perinatal management. No effect of drenching DMR on the survival or performance of (very) low birth weight piglets was observed, regardless of farm and, apparently, of the applied management. In conclusion, the studies within this dissertation validated drenching as a safe technique for LBW piglets, but could not find a positive effect on the resilience of the administered substances. Thus, drenching did not suffice as a single intervention to improve the resilience of LBW piglets.
Antwerp : University of Antwerp, Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences , 2024
149 p.
Supervisor: van Ginneken, Chris [Supervisor]
Supervisor: Michielsen, Joris [Supervisor]
Supervisor: Van Cruchten, Steven [Supervisor]
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Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
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Creation 15.02.2024
Last edited 17.06.2024
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