Effects of Intermittent Suckling on Sow and Piglet Performance
Keywords:intermittent suckling, litter performance, return-to-estrus, piglet
The objective of this study was to evaluate effects of intermittent suckling on sow and litter performance. Seventeen crossbred sows and litters were randomly assigned to treatment groups seven days prior to weaning: continuous suckling (CS) and intermittent suckling (IS; litters removed for 6 hr each from day 21 to 28). Litters were weaned at 28 days of age. Feed and water were available to litters and sows at all times. Feed intake was recorded. Body condition scores were collected on sows before farrowing and at weaning. Number of days to return-to-estrus for the sows was also recorded. Litters were weighed at birth and on days 7, 14, 21, 28, 35, and 42 of age. Litter weights were not different (P > 0.15) between CS and IS pigs before or after weaning. No difference (P > 0.10) was observed for feed intake between CS and IS litters before or after weaning. Body condition score at weaning was not different (P = 0.30) between CS and IS sows. Intermittent suckled sows returned-to-estrus in fewer days than CS sows (P < 0.05). Results suggest that intermittent suckling did not alter average daily gain in litters, but reduced the number of days to return-to-estrus in sows.