Why Piglets Born Dead


When I had farrowing gilts on the farm I have always been lucky enough to get live piglets, however sometimes piglets can be born dead but why is that?

“Just wondering I have a gilt that just had her first litter. The first 5 were alive but the next 5 were all dead. This is the second gilt that has had this problem. do you know what might be the reason the second have are dying. Stacey”

I wondered if may be the gilts had an illness but as I am not a vet or had more than 2 years experience with pigs it is hard to know what it could be. I have read that brucellosis and leptospirosis can have the symptoms of still born piglets. Infections or sickness could be the cause.

There are many other factors that could affect the health of the piglets during pregnancy.

If the gilt or sow becomes stressed, has a fight or a knock are factors that could all lead to stillborn piglets.

The health of the gilt or sow can also impact on the health of the piglets. An over weight pig can have difficulty farrowing. A lack of vitamins such as vitamin E and A can affect the birth of piglets.

The pigs diet can affect the health of the piglets and if moldy feed is also given to the gilt or sow then this could make the gilt or sow ill and then affect the piglet.

I have been doing some reading on this subject and I have read that if a piglet dies at the beginning of a pregnancy then when the piglet is born it will be hard and may be starting to deteriorate.

If the piglet dies just prior to birth then the piglet can look normal except it’s eyes may be sunken. One way to tell if a piglet died before birth or just after farrowing is to slice a piece of the piglet’s lung and place it in some water. If the piece of lung floats, it means that the piglet had breathed before death due to the presence of air in the lungs so, it was alive when it emerged.

If you have come across some piglets being born alive and some being born dead in the same farrowing then please let us know what the cause was in that particular case as it may help Stacey to determine why her piglets died.