Risks associated with preweaning mortality in 855 litters on 39 commercial outdoor pig farms in England

A. L. KilBride, M. Mendl, P. Statham, S. Held, M. Harris, J. N. Marchant-Forde, H. Booth, L. E. Green*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A prospective longitudinal study was carried out on 39 outdoor breeding pig farms in England in 2003 and 2004 to investigate the risks associated with mortality in liveborn preweaning piglets. Researchers visited each farm and completed a questionnaire with the farmer and made observations of the paddocks, huts and pigs. The farmer recorded the number of piglets born alive and stillborn, fostered on and off and the number of piglets that died before weaning for 20 litters born after the visit. Data were analysed from a cohort of 9424 liveborn piglets from 855 litters. Overall 1274 liveborn piglets (13.5%) died before weaning. A mixed effect binomial model was used to investigate the associations between preweaning mortality and farm and litter level factors, controlling for litter size and number of piglets stillborn and fostered. Increased risk of mortality was associated with fostering piglets over 24. h of age, organic certification or membership of an assurance scheme with higher welfare standards, farmer's perception that there was a problem with pest birds, use of medication to treat coccidiosis and presence of lame sows on the farm. Reduced mortality was associated with insulated farrowing huts and door flaps, women working on the farm and the farmer reporting a problem with foxes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-199
Number of pages11
JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Longitudinal study
  • Outdoor pig production
  • Piglet mortality
  • Risk analysis

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