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Colostrum Phase

  • Udder development and colostrum production starts during late gestation but before the birth process has started.
  • The amount of colostrum that is produced depends on genetic and hormonal factors as well as body condition. The intrinsic quality of colostrum is also influenced by stress.
  • Correct water and feed supply to the sow in the last third of gestation is essential for optimal colostrum production.
  • Modern genetic maternal lines usually produce more colostrum than traditional breeds/strains:
    • Irrespective of the number of pigs produced
    • but still with considerable variation between sows


Figure 1 Image
A good sign antepartem: milk dripping from a teat.


Consequences of the milk gap


Figure 2 Image
Empty bellies, fighting induced wounds including damaged carpal joints and teats.


Table 1 Image


  1. Optimal growth rate follows sufficient colostrum-intake.
  2. Milk gap, often no growth at all. Strong piglets with sufficient glycogen reserves are privileged.
  3. Normal lactation milk is produced from around 32 hours after the birth of the first piglet. It is vitally important to foster excess piglets.
    ►Be aware of the impact of disturbing suckling piglets by interventions in the early life-phase.