Piglet mortality and morbidity: Inevitable or unacceptable?

Emma M Baxter*, Sandra A Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Piglet mortality is a problem with complex aetiology, predisposed by the natural biology of a polytocous species which produces multiple offspring allocated disproportionate resources both in the pre- and post-natal environment. Intensive sibling rivalry to acquire limited uterine resources pre-natally, and then limited nutrients post-natally, leads to a high risk of mortality for the weakest among the offspring. In the domestic pig these risks have been exacerbated by intensive selection for economic traits such as prolificacy and leanness. Thus it would seem a certain amount of mortality is to be expected. The acceptability of death can be a subject of much ethical debate. However, even if death itself is not considered a welfare issue, the manner of dying is, particularly when it involves pain and/or suffering. Thus, whilst the life history strategy of the pig encompasses mortality risk, at what point does the inevitable become unacceptable for animal welfare?.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Pig Welfare
EditorsMarek Spinka
Number of pages28
ISBN (Electronic)9780081011195
ISBN (Print)9780081010129
Publication statusPrint publication - 1 Jan 2018


  • Ethics
  • Farrowing
  • Genetics
  • Management
  • Mother-offspring interaction
  • Piglet survival
  • Prolificacy
  • Welfare


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