Blood-glucose levels in newborn piglets and the associations between blood-glucose levels, intrauterine growth restriction and pre-weaning mortality
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionPorcine Health Management. 2019, 5 (1), 1-10. 10.1186/s40813-019-0129-6
The aim of this study was to investigate the associations between blood-glucose levels in one-day-old-piglets (ODOP), intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) and pre-weaning mortality in a commercial piglet-producing herd in Norway. The study was carried out in a non-crate commercial piglet-producing herd in Norway and 426 live born piglets from 31 litters were included. Piglets were blood-sampled, ear tagged, weighed and measured within 24 h after birth. Litter size, cross fostering and deaths until weaning were recorded. Blood was collected by vein puncture of Vena subcutanea abdominis and blood-glucose levels were measured using a handheld glucometer. Piglets were given an IUGR-score (1–3) based on head-morphology where a score of 3 is defined as an intrauterine growth restricted piglet. Of the 426 live born piglets, 391 piglets survived until weaning, resulting in 8.22% pre-weaning mortality. Mean piglet weight in ODOP was 1.59 kg (SD = 0.36), and mean blood-glucose level was 5.48 mmol/l (SD = 1.44). IUGR score 3 piglets had lower blood-glucose levels (Coef. = − 1.7 mmol/l, P < .001) than normal piglets (IUGR score 1). Males had significantly higher blood glucose levels (Coef. = 0.23 mmol/l, P = .044) compared to females. There was a trend that blood-glucose levels in individual piglets were lower in large litters with − 0.07 mmol/l per extra piglet born (P = .054). Piglets with blood-glucose levels in the second quartile had reduced risk of pre-weaning mortality (OR = 0.32, P = .046) compared to piglets with blood-glucose levels in the lower quartile. This is also true for piglets in the third and fourth quartile (OR = 0.13, P = 0.004). This study identified IUGR to be associated with low blood-glucose levels in ODOP. It also found increased pre-weaning mortality in ODOP with low blood-glucose. By identifying IUGR piglets by the shape of their head, piglet producers may reduce pre-weaning mortality by making sure these piglets get enough colostrum, milk or supplement feeding (i.e. energy).