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Insufficient energy intake

Energy intake is the most critical factor in determining piglet survival during the first 3 days of life. Large litters are susceptible to higher mortality because of lower birth weight and increased competition over teats.

Different energy sources and their importance for newborns


Figure 1 Image


The sow’s colostrum is an essential source of antibodies (providing immunity) as well as the main source of dietary energy: intake of at least 250 grammes/piglet should be the target. Further research is required into understanding better the factors during last third of gestation which influence the amount and quality of colostrum produced.  Endogenous glycogen-reserves in newborn piglets i.e. those present before suckling, last only for about 16 hours (see picture). These reserves are consumed faster when body-temperature needs to be maintained due to a cold environment (hypothermia). Only after about 1.5 days does the sow produce enough milk to cover the full energy needs of the litter!