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?.
|Title of host publication||Advances in Pig Welfare|
|Number of pages||28|
|Publication status||Print publication - 1 Jan 2018|
- Mother-offspring interaction
- Piglet survival