Next Article in Journal
Effects of Incremental Urea Supplementation on Rumen Fermentation, Nutrient Digestion, Plasma Metabolites, and Growth Performance in Fattening Lambs
Previous Article in Journal
Effect of A New Housing System on Skin Lesions, Performance and Soiling of Fattening Rabbits: A German Case Study
Open AccessArticle

One Iron Injection Is Not Enough—Iron Status and Growth of Suckling Piglets on an Organic Farm

1
Institute of Organic Farming, Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Trenthorst 32, 23847 Westerau, Germany
2
Institute of Organic Farming and Farm Animal Biodiversity, Austrian Research and Education Center Raumberg-Gumpenstein, 4600 Thalheim/Wels, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Present address: Lange Straße 68, 29378 Wittingen, Germany.
Animals 2019, 9(9), 651; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090651
Received: 28 June 2019 / Revised: 29 August 2019 / Accepted: 2 September 2019 / Published: 4 September 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Pig)
Suckling piglets need more iron for rapid and healthy growth than is available from sow’s milk alone. Therefore, iron supplementation is common on both conventional and organic farms and is usually carried out by a single injection of 200 mg iron during the piglets’ first days of life. However, the long suckling periods in organic pig farming can still lead to iron deficiency, as we found in a study with 288 piglets on an experimental farm. A single subcutaneous injection of iron led to lower iron levels and slower growth until weaning, when compared with giving iron two or three times. We conclude that one iron injection is not enough to ensure adequate iron supply and unimpaired growth of organically reared piglets, and options of additional iron supply need to be explored.
Suckling piglets cannot satisfy their demand for the essential trace element iron from sows’ milk alone, which is poor in iron. Therefore, iron is usually supplemented by injecting 200 mg iron (as iron dextran) on day 3 post natum. However, the longer suckling period in organic pig herds leads to iron intake from feed starting later. We hypothesized that one iron injection is not enough for organically reared piglets, and that a second and third injection would improve their iron status and growth. On an organically certified experimental farm, 288 piglets from 32 litters were allocated to three treatments with one iron injection on day 3, two injections on day 3 and 14 and three injections on day 3, 14 and 21 post natum, respectively. One injection resulted in the lowest hematocrit and serum iron levels until day 28 post natum and the lowest daily weight gains until weaning, while piglets receiving two or three iron injections did not differ from each other. Based on these observations, we conclude that one iron injection is not enough to ensure adequate iron supply and unimpaired growth of organically reared piglets, and additional iron supply is necessary. View Full-Text
Keywords: pig; organic agriculture; iron injection; piglet health; iron dextran pig; organic agriculture; iron injection; piglet health; iron dextran
Show Figures

Graphical abstract

MDPI and ACS Style

Heidbüchel, K.; Raabe, J.; Baldinger, L.; Hagmüller, W.; Bussemas, R. One Iron Injection Is Not Enough—Iron Status and Growth of Suckling Piglets on an Organic Farm. Animals 2019, 9, 651.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map

1
Back to TopTop