Piglet mortality and morbidity: Inevitable or unacceptable?

EM Baxter*, Sandra A. Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (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 prenatally, and then limited nutrients postnatally, 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. Therefore a certain amount of mortality would seem 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, Second Edition
EditorsIrene Camerlink, Emma Baxter
PublisherWoodhead Publishing
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780323856768
ISBN (Print)9780323915731
Publication statusFirst published - 6 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Piglet survival
  • farrowing
  • welfare
  • genetics
  • management
  • Mother-offspring interaction
  • Prolificacy
  • IUGR
  • ethics
  • Management
  • Ethics
  • Farrowing
  • Welfare
  • Genetics


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