Investigating the behavioural and physiological indicators of neonatal survival in pigs
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Survival is reduced in low birth weight piglets, which display poor thermoregulatory abilities and are slow to acquire colostrum. Our aim was to identify additional behavioural and physiological indicators of piglet survival incorporating traits reflective of both the intrauterine and extrauterine environment. Data were collected from 135 piglets from 10 Large White Landrace sows to investigate which physiological measurements (e.g. individual placental traits), and which behavioural measurements (e.g. the quantification of piglet vigour), were the best indicators of piglet survival. Generalised linear models confirmed piglet birth weight as a critical survival factor. However, with respect to stillborn mortality, piglet shape and size, as measured by ponderal index (birth weight/(crown–rump length)3), body mass index (birth weight/(crown–rump length)2), respectively, and farrowing birth order were better indicators. With respect to live-born mortality, postnatal survival factors identified as crucial were birth weight, vigour independent of birth weight, and the latency to first suckle. These results highlight the importance of the intrauterine environment for postnatal physiological and behavioural adaptation and identify additional factors influencing piglet neonatal survival. # 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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