Turning sow health into reduced pre-weaning mortality
By Kobe Lannoo (Category Manager Agrimprove Pigs)
Pre-weaning mortality is one of the most prominent causes of production loss negatively impacting each and every pig farmer. Moreover this topic attracts increasing attention when discussing animal welfare. Looking at the causality for this early mortality, for sure increasing viability and immune-protection of piglets are critical to reduce this loss significantly. With C-Vita, Agrimprove offers a unique solution to increase colostrum quality at parturition, giving newborn piglets that extra immunity support they need in the early stage of life.
The sow is the key
With colostrum, nature itself provides a solution to protect piglets for very early challenges until their own immunity is developed. Colostrum is produced by the sow to transfer immunity directly to her progeny immediately after birth. However throughout the years litter sizes have increased a lot while quality nor quantity of the produced colostrum were able to keep up with this pace (Ngo et al.,2012 JRP). This ultimately leads to less colostrum per piglet with an increasing pre-weaning mortality as a logic consequence.
Besides this, every farmer invests a lot in sow vaccines to ensure piglet protection against a variety of different pathogenic threats, like neonatal diarrhea or PRRS. But the attention towards the quality of the sows immune reaction and ability to produce colostrum is too often neglected despite importance of immune transfer, especially in gilts.
C-Vita: Focus on the sow to give piglets a head start
Thorough discussions with customers on possible ways to improve production parameters showed that a lot of the current strategies are focusing on solving problems rather than preventing them. Consequently, a new approach is needed.
Boosting the sow’s immunity in order to increase the piglet survival rates is the key focus of C-Vita. Thanks to its unique medium chain fatty acid (MCFA)-composition, C-Vita empowers the sow’s white blood cells, essential in the production of antibodies, to produce high quality colostrum. This way the use of C-Vita will not only lead to a healthier sow herd, but it will at the same time significantly reduce the piglet mortality before weaning.
Increasing the odds to survive
Strategies to reduce pre-weaning mortality have to start before the piglets are born. That is why C-Vita is advised not only in lactation, but at least 6 weeks before parturition. The effects of C-Vita were evaluated in on a high performing SPF- trial facility in Belgium. The comparison of production parameters with and without the use of C-Vita (table 1) clearly shows the combined effect on sow health (piglets per sow per year [PSY] ; % lost sows) and piglet survival rate(dead born; mortality per litter).
Next to performance parameters also IgG levels in colostrum were measured. Sows receiving C-Vita showed a significant higher amount of IgG’s in the colostrum compared to the negative control group (figure 1). Levels of immunoglobulins were even doubled when analyzing the effect only in gilts (figure 2).
Higher colostrum quality automatically leads to higher immunocrit levels in the blood of newborn piglets as can be seen in the figure below (figure 3). According to literature there is a close relation between immunocrit levels of newborn piglets and survival rate (Vallet et al., 2012). This was confirmed in this trial where a clear reduction of 17% of preweaning mortality was observed (table 1).
Reducing pre-weaning mortality will attract growing attention in the coming years. By supporting the sow’s natural immune system, C-Vita provides the industry with a sustainable tool to improve farm rentability as well as animal welfare.
Thanks to C-Vita, sows offer their piglets the head start they need to become healthy and well performing animals. Because after all what’s the use of increasing the number of liveborn piglets if they don’t stay alive afterwards?