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Interpretive Summary: Postpartum meloxicam administration to sows but not split-suckling increases piglet growth and reduces clinical incidence of disease in suckling piglets

By: Elisa A Arnaud, Gillian E Gardiner, Keely M Halpin, Clément Ribas, John V O’ Doherty, Torres Sweeney, Peadar G Lawlor

Suckling pigs should receive ≥200 g of colostrum (the first secretion of the mammary gland after giving birth) within the first 24 h of life. This is challenging to achieve as the number of piglets born alive has increased over the last decade, but the sow’s ability to produce colostrum has not increased. Split-suckling (removing advantaged pigs from the sow for a period of time to allow weaker littermates time to suckle without competition) and/or administering an anti-inflammatory pain-killer to sows after farrowing may help to ensure adequate colostrum intake, thereby ensuring optimal piglet growth and health. The objective of this study was to assess the effect of split-suckling and/or postpartum provision of meloxicam, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory, on growth and health in pigs. The provision of meloxicam to sows increased pig growth pre- and postweaning, and increased carcass weight at slaughter. Furthermore, meloxicam reduced disease and tended to reduce antibiotic and anti-inflammatory usage in pigs prior to weaning. Split-suckling reduced pig growth pre- and postweaning and did not impact carcass weight or medication usage prior to weaning. Providing meloxicam to sows postfarrowing is a simple effective strategy to increase pig growth and reduce the need for medication.

Read the full article in the Journal of Animal Science.