30 Jan 2018
Colostrum intake from birth to 24 h after the onset of parturition ( T24) was estimated for 526 piglets from 40 litters. Plasma concentrations of immunoglobulin G (IgG), lactate, glucose and cortisol were determined at T24 for six piglets per litter. Plasma IgG concentration was also assayed at weaning (28 days) on the same piglets. Rectal temperature was measured at T24 on all piglets.
Mortality was recorded until weaning and comparisons were made between piglets that died before weaning and those that were still alive at weaning. The piglets that died before weaning had lower birth weight, lower colostrum intake, lower weight gain between birth and T24, and had a lower rectal temperature, higher plasma cortisol concentration and lower plasma IgG and glucose
concentrations at T24 than piglets still alive at weaning. In addition, a higher proportion of piglets that died before weaning had difficulty taking their first breath after birth and were affected by splayleg. Considering all piglets, colostrum intake was positively related to rectal temperature and plasma glucose concentration and negatively related to plasma cortisol concentration at T24. Plasma
IgG concentration at T24 was explained by colostrum intake, IgG concentration in the ingested colostrum, birth weight and birth rank (P,0.0001). Plasma IgG concentration at weaning was related to plasma IgG concentration at T24 (r50.54; P,0.0001) and to colostrum intake (r50.32; P,0.0001). Finally, body weight was explained by colostrum intake, birth weight and age until 6 weeks of age (P,0.0001). These results show that colostrum intake is the main determinant of piglet survival through provision of energy and immune protection and has potential long-term effects on piglet growth and immunity.