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Industry Happenings

September 21, 2018


4 parameters may unlock piglets' lifetime performance and manage Sow Peripartal Syndrome: Trouw Nutrition


Press release



Trouw Nutrition is broadening its LifeStart concept to address how conditions occurring in the prenatal phase can impact an animal's lifelong performance. Research findings are inspiring innovations to address a complex web of maternal sow traits spanning all phases of the reproductive cycle. First described by Dr. An Cools in 2013, Sow Peripartal Syndrome relates to a breadth of interrelated challenges experienced by mother sows and piglets throughout the peripartal period. Occurring during gestation, parturition, and the post-farrowing period, dysfunctional sow mother traits can ultimately lead to Sow Peripartal Syndrome, compromising piglets' lifetime performance and farmers' profitability.


Sow Peripartal Syndrome encompasses diverse challenges that can be schematically divided between sows and piglets (Figure 1). Each of these challenges are directly or indirectly correlated and/or associated with each other. Viewed holistically, this complex web of interactions leads to Sow Peripartal Syndrome.


Because the challenges contributing to Sow Peripartal Syndrome can exist prior to farrowing, many problems are difficult to detect until a litter is farrowed.


Researchers have identified three sets of challenges associated with Sow Peripartal Syndrome occurring before, during and following the peripartal period:


1.)     Before: A first set of challenges originates before the peripartal period—for example, suboptimal body condition, mummification, low birth weight.

2.)     During: The second set of challenges originates during the peripartal period—for example, low colostrum production (hypogalactia), stillbirth.

3.)     After: A third set of challenges only becomes observable after the peripartal period—for example, low milk production (hypogalactia), low vitality, neonatal mortality.

“Throughout the sow's reproductive cycle, multiple pathways can explain a certain outcome,” says Ruben Decaluwe, technical manager swine at Trouw Nutrition, a Nutreco company, referring to a 2013 paper by GP Martineau on postpartum dysgalactia syndrome. Irrespective of the pathway, all of the challenges associated with Sow Peripartal Syndrome present concerns for piglets' lifetime performance and profitable rearing (Figure 2).


4 Parameters Determine Pre-Weaning Mortality and Lifetime Performance


Trouw Nutrition's LifeStart team is unraveling the pathways contributing to Peripartal Sow Syndrome to help optimize piglets' lifetime performance and profitable rearing. Researchers are focusing on four key parameters observable in piglets following parturition. These parameters are: 


1.)  Being born alive: Each stillborn piglet is a loss of potential performance and profitability, requiring additional intervention and posing an animal welfare challenge.

2.)  Adequate birth weight: Research has shown that 25% of the variation in weaning weight can be explained by birth weight.

3.)  Adequate colostrum intake: Research has demonstrated a relationship between a piglet's individual colostrum intake and weaning weight and a correlation between individual colostrum intake and slaughter weight. Currently, approximately 30% of piglets are not able to reach minimal required colostrum intake.

4.)  Adequate vitality: Birth vitality is essential for routing, being competitive at the udder, start suckling, maintaining body temperature, and as such increases chances for survival.

Applying the Four Parameters to Maximize Piglets' Lifetime Performance


Just as the maternal sow traits are interrelated, each of the four piglet parameters is highly affected by challenges contributing to Sow Peripartal Syndrome. Adding to the complexity, several additional factors can cause any of the piglet parameters to become suboptimal. Trouw Nutrition is conducting research to better understand and address how each of the four parameters relates to Sow Peripartal Syndrome. Ultimately, the findings will inspire new offerings by Trouw Nutrition focused on maximizing piglets' lifetime performance and addressing the challenges Sow Peripartal Syndrome presents to sows, piglets and farmers.


“While pig breeders and farmers have long sought to increase litter size, productivity enhancements are resulting in challenges such as perinatal and neonatal losses, a higher number of low-birth-weight piglets and reduced availability of sow milk,” says Decaluwe. “A comprehensive strategy that supports sows and piglets during the in-utero, pre-weaning and post-weaning phase can help develop interventions to address Sow Peripartal Syndrome and optimize a piglet's lifetime performance.” 


Trouw Nutrition is preparing a series of reports based on Sow Peripartal Syndrome research, focusing on the four parameters affecting lifetime performance.
Figure 1: The diverse challenges presented by Sow Peripartal Syndrome can be schematically divided between sows and piglets.


Figure 2: The interrelated challenges associated with Sow Peripartal Syndrome present concerns for piglets' lifetime performance and ultimately contribute to production losses.
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