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Colostrum is the first milk secreted by a sow during lactation and is produced for just 24 hours following the onset of farrowing. The substance is rich in energy, and contains antibodies and immunoglobulins required by the piglet to fight disease and infection. At birth, energy reserves in piglets are very low and the immune system is extremely immature. Colostrum provides energy and the passive immunity critical for survival. Newborn piglets require at least 7 ounces of colostrum within the first 24 hours of life (Quesnel et al., 2012) and the ability of the intestine of the piglet to absorb colostrum-derived antibodies is substantially decreased by 24 to 36 hours post-farrowing. Figure 1 shows the amount of colostrum consumed during the first 24 hours of life by piglets surviving to weaning and by piglets that died during the nursing period. Although these data are not necessarily indicative of a cause and effect relationship, they are consistent with the concept that adequate colostrum consumption is critical for pre-weaning survival in swine.
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Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.
August 12, 2015