Texas Tech University

Litter Piglet Processing

“Litter processing” refers to the procedures that are performed on piglets with the expressed desire to improve their health. Litter processing may include any all or none of these procedures shown in this table:

Procedure Used when birth is attended Performed from a few hours to a few days of age Considered an animal welfare issue Additional Information
Drying off piglets Yes No No
Trimming their umbilical cord Yes No No
Placing piglets near sow udder or under heat lamp Yes No No
Measuring body weight Yes/maybe Maybe No
Trimming needle teeth* Yes Yes Yes (but rarely performed today)
Injection (by mouth or i.m) of iron dextran Yes Yes No/minor
Tail docking* Yes Yes Yes The Tail Docking Tail Biting Site
Castration of males* Yes Yes Yes The Pig Castration Site

* Not recommended to be performed in the first 24 hours because the stress of these procedures will reduce nursing during the critical period in which colostrum is produced and consumed. Too much stress the first day may reduce maternal antibodies absorbed by piglets when they miss one or more nursing bout.

Laboratory of Animal Behavior, Physiology and Welfare