Light pig syndrome: what causes it and how can it be overcome?
Research partners: Newcastle University
Sponsors: AHDB Pork-funded studentship (Sadie Douglas)
Aims and objectives
- To identify risk factors involved in poor growth
- To develop management and nutritional treatments to enable light pigs to maximise their growth at different stages of production.
The crucial stages of postnatal growth for light pigs have been identified and pre-weaning and early post-weaning treatments have been developed. These not only improve the performance of low birth weight pigs but also allow them to catch up with heavier birth weight pigs.
- The findings demonstrate the importance of birth weight for future growth and how initial differences are perpetuated as pigs progress from birth to finishing
- Low birth weight pigs may be inherently disadvantaged from birth, the postnatal environment disadvantages them further, making it difficult for them to catch up
- Dietary and management interventions targeted at specific populations have been used with varying degrees of success to manipulate future body weight
- It was established that low birth weight pigs are able to exhibit growth rates similar to heavier littermates post weaning, enabling them not only to decrease the deficit in their weight but also to match the body weight of heavier pigs on exit from the nursery; whether a weight advantage is still present at slaughter remains uncertain.