The challenge of large litters on the immune system of the sow and the piglets

Reprod Domest Anim. 2019 Sep:54 Suppl 3:12-21. doi: 10.1111/rda.13463.


The use of hyperprolific sow lines has increased litter size considerably in the last three decades. Nowadays, in some countries litters can reach up to 18-20 piglets being a major challenge for the sow's physiology during pregnancy, parturition and lactation. The increased number of piglets born per litter prolongs sensibly the duration of farrowing, decreases the piglets' average weight at birth and their vitality, increases the competition for colostrum intake and can affect negatively piglets' survival. This review aims to describe how large litters can affect the immune system of the sow and the piglets and proposes measures to improve this condition.

Keywords: birthweight; colostrum; duration of farrowing; immunoglobulins; intrauterine growth retardation; pig.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / immunology
  • Birth Weight
  • Colostrum
  • Female
  • Lactation / immunology
  • Litter Size / immunology*
  • Parturition / physiology
  • Pregnancy / immunology*
  • Swine / growth & development
  • Swine / immunology*