Piglet movement from one sow to another, or fostering, is required in modern pig farming but there is little available literature on the most effective strategy. In this review, we focus on the behavioural and physiological mechanisms responsible for piglet survival and growth, and have identified six key principles. (1) Colostrum provides piglets with warmth, energy and immunity. It is most accessible during the first 12 h from the birth sow, therefore no piglet should be moved before this; (2) To ensure even intake of birth sow colostrum, techniques such as split suckling prior to piglet movement should be implemented; (3) Udder assessment for functional teats should occur at farrowing, with number of fostered piglets not exceeding teat number; (4) Primiparous sows should receive as many piglets as the udder allows to maximise mammary stimulation, although older parities should be assessed for rearing ability; (5) Piglet fostering should occur between 12 and 24 h and movement kept to a minimum to prevent transfer of disease; Litter outliers should be moved and relocated to a litter of similar size; (6) Piglet movement after 24 h should be minimised. When required, strategies such as nurse usage should be employed. These principles will result in improved farrowing house performance by increasing the litter weight weaned per sow.
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