U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska
Effect of method of drying piglets at birth on rectal temperature over the first 24 h after birth
Date of this Version
Transl. Anim. Sci. 2020.4:1-12 doi: 10.1093/tas/txaa183
Piglets are born wet, and evaporation of that moisture decreases body temperature, increasing the risk of mortality. The objective of this study was to compare the effect of two commercially applicable methods for drying piglets at birth on piglet rectal temperature over 24 h after birth. The study was carried out in standard commercial farrowing facilities with 52 litters, using a completely randomized design with three Drying Treatments: Control (not dried); Desiccant (dried at birth using a cellulose-based desiccant); Paper Towel (dried at birth using paper towels). Litters were randomly allotted to treatments at the birth of the first piglet. At birth, piglets were individually identified, and the treatment was applied. Rectal temperature was measured at 0, 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 120, and 1,440 min (24 h) after birth. Data were analyzed using a repeated measures model with PROC MIXED of SAS, with litter as the experimental unit and piglet a subsample of the litter. The model included the fixed effects of treatment and time (as a repeated measure), and the interaction. There was no effect (P> 0.05) of treatment on temperature at birth, or 10 or 1,440 min after birth. Piglet temperatures between 20 and 120 min after birth were similar (P > 0.05) for the Desiccant and Paper Towel treatments, but were greater (P ≤ 0.05) than the Control. The effect of birth weight on the response to Drying Treatment was evaluated by dividing the data into Light (<1.0 kg), Medium (1.0 to 1.5 kg), or Heavy (>1.5 kg) piglet Birth Weight Categories. Piglet rectal temperature data at each measurement time were analyzed using a model that included the fixed effects of Birth Weight Category, Drying Treatment, and the interaction. Temperatures of Light piglets were lower (P ≤ 0.05) than those of Heavy piglets between 20 and 120 min after birth, with Medium piglets being intermediate and generally different to the other two weight categories at these times. The difference in temperature between Light as compared with Medium or Heavy piglets was greater for the Control than the other two Drying Treatments at 60 min after birth. These results suggest that drying piglets at birth is an effective method to reduce rectal temperature decline in the early postnatal period, especially for low birth weight piglets.