Piglet mortality: the impact of induction of farrowing using prostaglandins and oxytocin.


Induction is usually carried out by administering prostaglandins (prostaglandin F2α or a synthetic analogue). Other hormones, most commonly oxytocin, may also be given. The primary objective is to increase the synchrony of farrowing. This facilitates farrowing supervision, early fostering and 'all in, all out' management of the farrowing house, all of which have the potential to decrease piglet mortality. However, there are also risks, including decreased piglet viability when farrowing is induced too early and an increased probability of dystocia associated with oxytocin use. What are the effects of induction procedures on mortality in pigs? With respect to prostaglandins, studies show that the date of induction and the level of supervision provided are important factors affecting piglet mortality. We recommend administering prostaglandins no earlier than 2d before the expected farrowing date for the herd. Some studies have reported that prostaglandin induction decreases stillbirth and live-born mortality and this is probably due to increased farrowing supervision. The incidence of postpartum dysgalactia syndrome is also decreased in herds with a high prevalence of this condition. Inconsistent effects on the progress of farrowing are reported following the routine administration of oxytocin 20-24h after prostaglandin. Although there is generally no effect on stillbirth rate, dystocia may increase. Earlier administration of low doses may decrease stillbirths, but this requires further research. Carbetocin, a long-acting analogue of oxytocin, is a possible alternative. We recommend that prostaglandin induction be used in conjunction with skilled farrowing supervision to decrease piglet mortality.