U.S. Department of Agriculture: Agricultural Research Service, Lincoln, Nebraska


Date of this Version


Document Type



Vande Pol et al. Effect of drying and/or warming piglets. Transl. Anim. Sci. 2020.4:1-9 doi: 10.1093/tas/txaa184


open access


Piglets experience a rapid decrease in body temperature immediately after birth, increasing the risk of mortality. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of drying and/or warming piglets at birth on rectal temperature over the first 24 h after birth. The study was carried out at a commercial sow facility using a completely randomized design with four treatments (applied to piglets at birth): Control (no drying or warming), Desiccant (dried using a desiccant), Warming Box (placed in a box under a heat lamp for 30 min), and Desiccant + Warming Box (both dried and warmed as above). Farrowing pens had one heat lamp, temperatures under which were similar to the warming box (35 °C). A total of 68 litters (866 piglets) were randomly allotted to a treatment at the birth of the first piglet. At birth, each piglet was identified with a numbered ear tag and weighed; rectal temperature was measured at 0, 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 120, and 1,440 min after birth. Data were analyzed using a repeated-measures model using PROC MIXED of SAS. Litter was the experimental unit, piglet was a subsample of the litter; and the model included the fixed effects of treatment, time (the repeated measure), and the interaction. Rectal temperatures at birth and 1,440 min after birth were similar (P > 0.05) for all treatments. At all times between 10 and 120 min after birth, Control piglets had lower (P ≤ 0.05) temperatures than the other three treatments. The Desiccant and Warming Box treatments had similar (P > 0.05) temperatures at most measurement times, but the Desiccant + Warming Box treatment had the highest (P ≤ 0.05) rectal temperatures at most times between 10 and 60 min. In addition, for all treatments, light (<1.0 kg) birth weight piglets had lower (P ≤ 0.05) temperatures than medium (1.0–1.5 kg) or heavy (>1.5 kg) piglets at all times between 10 and 120 min. In addition, at these measurement times, the deviation in temperature between the Control and the other three treatments was greater for light than medium or heavy piglets. In conclusion, both drying and warming piglets at birth significantly increased rectal temperatures between 10 and 120 min after birth, with the combination of the two interventions having the greatest effect, especially for low birth weight piglets.