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Sow-level risk factors for stillbirth of piglets in organic sow herds

  • L. Rangstrup-Christensen (a1), M. A. Krogh (a1), L. J. Pedersen (a1) and J. T. Sørensen (a1)


In Danish organic pig production, one-third of total born piglets die before weaning, and stillbirth has previously crudely been estimated to account for 27% of the total preweaning mortality. The objective of this study was to evaluate season, litter size, parity and body condition of the sow as risk factors for stillbirth in nine commercial Danish organic pig herds. The study was conducted over a 1-year period, and the data included registrations on 5170 farrowings with 82 906 total born piglets. The average number of total born piglets per litter was 16.0, and the number of stillborn piglets per litter was 1.1. A significant effect of season was seen with an odds ratio for stillbirth of 1.15 during summer (May to August) compared with the remaining part of the year. A non-linear effect of litter size was seen where an increase in litter size from 11 to 16 resulted in an odds ratio of stillbirth of 1.11. An increase in litter size from 16 to 21 resulted in an odds ratio of stillbirth of 1.45. A significant interaction between body condition and parity was present. In first parity sows, an increase in body condition score from 2 (thin) to 3 (moderate) and from 3 to 4 (fat) increased the probability of stillbirth with an odds ratio of 1.23 and 1.36, respectively. In sows with parity above 4, an increase in body condition score from 2 to 3 and from 3 to 4 decreases the probability of stillbirth with an odds ratio of 0.68 and 0.79, respectively. In conclusion, increasing litter size and being born during the summer months of May to August were found to be risk factors for stillbirth. Furthermore, an interaction between body condition and parity showed that thin sows with parity above 4 had a substantially increased risk of stillbirth compared with normal and fat sows with parity above 4. In contrast, for parity 1 sows risk of stillbirth was increased in fat sows.


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