Animal Production

Research Article

Sucking behaviour and serum immunoglobulin levels in neonatal piglets

Anne Marie B. de Passilléa1 p1, J. Rushena2 p1 and G. Pelletiera1

a1 Lennoxville Research Station, Agriculture Canada, PO Box 90, Lennoxville, Québec, Canada, J1M 1Z3§

a2 Animal Research Centre, Agriculture Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0C6


The relationships between the sucking behaviour of newborn piglets during bouts of sucking and their serum immunoglobulin G (IgG) levels at 12 h of age were investigated in 274 Landrace × Yorkshire piglets from 24 second parity Yorkshire sows. Mean IgG level differed between litters but was not related to the number of live-born piglets or the mean birth weight of the litter; in addition, the amount of variation in IgG level within a litter was not related to the number of live-born piglets or the amount of variation in birth weight of the piglets.

Within a litter, lower serum IgG levels were found in piglets of birth orders greater than eight and piglets that had a very low frequency of sucking bouts. The piglets that had the higher IgG levels within a litter were those that started to suck sooner, sucked from many teats and won more of their teat disputes. Piglets that were involved in fewer teat disputes within a litter or took a greater proportion of their sucking bouts on anterior teats did not have higher IgG levels. Piglets that died differed from their surviving litter-mates in having lower IgG levels and having lost weight during the first 12 h after birth. Within a litter, IgG levels were not related to 10-day weight gain. However, litters with a lower mean IgG level also had a lower mean 10-day weight gain. It is suggested that a low mean IgG level in a litter reflects or predicts a low milk production by that sow.

(Received October 29 1988)

(Accepted March 04 1988)


p1 Present addresses: Zodiac/Marijkeweg 40, PO Box 338, AH Wageningen, The Netherlands

p2 Reprint requests should be sent to the Librarian at this address

p3 Institut für Tierzucht und Tierverhalten, Trenthorst, 2061 Westerau 2, West Germany