Weaning Challenges?

Natural weaning is a gradual process with plenty of time and opportunity for a wide range of antigenic stimulation. However, in modern pig production, weaning is abrupt and takes place at about 3 weeks of life.

Weaning is a very important stage in a pig’s life because it is one of the most stressful events the piglet will encounter. The enormous amount of stress comes from the rapid changes that the piglet goes through.

The following are changes that the piglet experiences at weaning:
  • Loss of maternal protection and defenses in maternal milk
  • Change of living space and environment
  • Mixing with groups of larger sized piglets from different litters
  • Change of diet:
       - Transition from a highly digestible and palatable warm, liquid diet to a solid
         diet that is less digestible and palatable
       - There is no collective communication at feeding
       - The piglet stops suckling every 40–60 minutes

The stress the piglet goes through can contribute to intestinal and immune system dysfunctions which can play a role in the pig’s overall health, growth and feed intake.

When the piglet is weaned, it must adapt quickly to the new changes listed above. Since the piglet is no longer receiving maternal milk, the antibodies that were present in the mucous will decline within a few days. At weaning, the piglet is the least protected because the circulating antibodies will reach their lowest level at around 28 days (4 weeks) of life. Over time, their antibody level will gradually increase as they build their own natural immunity (see Graph 1). During this time, the piglet is the most susceptible to intestinal challenges because their acquired or “active” immune system has not had time to fully develop. Help the piglet Bridge the Gap™ from passive to acquired immunity with Ready to Feed Antibodies® in Protimax® for Swine.

Graph 1

The statement and products described on this page have not been evaluated by the USDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.