-Manny Araullo, Swine Consultant Western Canada.

Swine production managers continue to face issues with stillborn and pre weaning
mortality despite advancements in genetics, nutrition and facility improvements.
Farrowing is a critical time in pig production, as success at this stage of the system
means more piglets are weaned and ultimately sold. The breeding sow is essential for
successful production around farrowing, and good health and welfare of the sow is
reflected in her ability to produce a healthy litter of piglets.

Of course there is a multitude of factors affecting this, ranging from age and condition of
sow, late gestation protocols, temperature, feed management in late gestation,
constipation, timing of moving to farrowing rooms, genetics, and duration of farrowing
time. A strategic approach to managing these factors can improve yields. Many studies
show minimizing farrowing duration can improve the number of piglets born alive and
reduce stillborns. Approximately 50% of piglets are born backwards and some piglets are
larger than average, these typically represent the majority of the stillborn piglets.
Supporting muscle contractions of the sow during farrowing (uterus, pelvic muscle)
decreases farrowing time and increases piglet vitality even in large litters. Therefore,
management decisions to minimize farrowing duration can be a key factor in reduction of
stillborn piglets. Strategic use of oxytocin, specifically formulated pre-farrowing rations,
and specific pre-farrowing top-dressers are highly recommended for optimal farrowing

PWM is also highly impacted by duration of farrowing. Improving early piglet viability by
reducing farrowing duration reduces the number of “dopey” piglets and improves
average colostrum intake per piglet as well as reducing the incidences of crushed piglets.
Research shows that earlier colostrum intake correlates to a lower overall PWM.

Larry, owner/manager, Spitfire Swine, Mb, Canada said “We did not have the bin space or logistics to use a pre-farrowing ration so we decided on an economical and easy to use prefarrowing top-dresser to achieve early lactation performance and our goal of reducing stillborns. The Gesta-Lac 110 top-dresser is very easy to use and we see that our farrowing times are more consistently uniform and stillborn rate is improved for sure. We also observe that the improved early milk letdown flow led to higher than normal weaned pig quality. ”

Decreasing farrowing time and increasing early piglet vitality are key factors in reducing
stillborns and PWM, using a specific “pre-farrowing” ration or supplementing with a
convenient/specific “pre-farrowing” top dresser can improve performance and help you
achieve your goals.