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Piglets from 42 litters of Yorkshire sows were weighed 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10, and 14 d after farrowing in order to explore the highly variable weight gains during the first 2 wk after birth. All litters were adjusted to 10-12 piglets by fostering. Litters differed greatly in average gain per piglet during the first 3 d after farrowing, with litter means ranging from 5 to 227 g d‒1 per piglet for the 3-d period. Gains during days 0-3 tended to be somewhat lower if the sow had a high body temperature during these days, but the correlation was not high (r = ‒0.35; P < 0.05). Compared to litters with high average gains during days 0-3, litters with low gains during this period continued to have lower average gains during days 3-14 (P < 0.05) and had higher within-litter variation in gain (P < 0.01). On a within-litter basis, weight gain during the first days after farrowing was only weakly correlated with the day 14 weight of individual piglets. Low average gain by a litter in the first 3 d after birth is probably due to low initial milk yield by the sow, and likely indicates a poor start to the sow's lactation. Early identification of litters with low initial gains might allow remedial action to reduce the problems of high mortality and low, variable gains later in lactation.


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