Colostrum intake is an essential component for piglet survival. Assessing colostrum intake, and consequently transfer of immunoglobulins (Igs), has been difficult to quantitate in swine. In this study, the authors first sought to subjectively determine the least stressful method to collect necessary sample quantities for Ig quantitation.
The immunocrit ratio (IR) method was used to quantify a benchmark Ig level for a commercial production system. Lastly, the authors sought to identify associations between IR and production parameters. The cephalic vein provided consistent sample volumes and caused minimal animal distress. Additionally, a small volume of serum (30 μL) can be used for IR testing. An IR benchmark was determined to be 0.098 for this production system.
For this study, no significant associations were found between pre-weaning mortality or average daily weight gain and IR. Birth weight and parity had significant effects (P < .05) on IR, with parity 1 litters having lower IR than higher parity litters. Using the IR technique to identify IR benchmarks for piglets will help producers improve colostrum intake opportunities in piglets with suboptimal Ig levels.
The IR method ascertains whether piglets are receiving adequate maternal antibodies until their own immune systems are developed.
Peters BM, Krantz SA, Holtkamp DJ, et al. Reference values for immunocrit ratios to assess maternal antibody uptake in 1-day-old piglets. J Swine Health Prod. 2016;24(1):36–41.