3. Managing the litter from hyperprolific sows

In: The suckling and weaned piglet
E.M. Baxter Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), Animal and Veterinary Sciences, West Mains Road, EH9 3JG Edinburgh, United Kingdom.

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O. Schmitt University of Bristol, School of Veterinary Sciences, Animal Welfare and Behaviour group, Langford house, BS40 5DU Langford, United Kingdom.

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L.J. Pedersen Aarhus University, Department of Animal Science, Blichers allé 20, 8830 Tjele, Denmark.

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The practice of breeding from hyperprolific sows producing very large litters is becoming a normal occurrence in commercial pig production. However, the relationship between large litter size and piglet mortality is well established. In order to minimise the health and welfare challenges associated with large litters and maximise the economic potential of increased numbers born, various genetic, nutritional and management interventions are required. This chapter outlines the different challenges associated with hyperprolificacy before focusing on management strategies adopted over the farrowing and lactation period to tackle those challenges. These include early interventions to assist vulnerable piglets, such as those suffering from intrauterine growth retardation, as well as strategies involving whole litter interventions (e.g. use of nurse sows, artificial rearing) to help rear supernumerary piglets.

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