Document Type


Report Number

A.S. Series 65-24

Publication Date



Nearly everyone raising pigs is aware of the high mortality rate of baby pigs during the first few days of life. It is estimated that 25 to 30 percent of all live pigs die before reaching market weight. Most of these die in early life. Approximately 75 percent of all baby pig deaths were due to three general causes: (1) small and weak pigs, (2) chilling, and (3) overlaying by the sow. The economic loss due to the death of these pigs is overwhelming. If each good pig is worth five dollars and roughly 20 to 30 million newborn pigs are lost each year in the United States, the loss is probably greater than 100 million dollars a year. New farrowing barns with modern farrowing stalls and slotted floors have been the trend in recent years, but the national average number of pigs marketed has been slightly over seven pigs per litter consistently for a period of years. This does not mean that some equipment has not helped reduce baby pig losses, but it does point out that the over-all effect on the number of pigs raised per litter has been generally less than anticipated. Therefore, the problem of losing good pigs shortly after birth is far from solved. Two years ago a program was initiated to study the effects of temperature and milk injection into the stomach of the newborn pig on the survival of pigs. The early results of this program are reported herein.

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Agricultural Experiment Station, South Dakota State College