The Case Against Evening-Up Litters Until Weaning
University of Nebraska 2006 Swine Nutrition Guide. A literature review on the effect of fostering or moving individual piglets from one litter to another after they are 24 to 48 hours of age was conducted. Late fostering disrupts nursing, increases fighting, and impairs the growth rate of adopted piglets and their littermates. Pig body weight at weaning was reduced 13 to 24% in extensively fostered litters vs. those where no piglets were fostered after 48 hours of age. No evidence was found that late fostering improves preweaning survival. For the greater good of all piglets, producers are encouraged to resist the urge to even-up litters or foster individual piglets after they are 24 hours old. Piglets that fall behind or grow slower than littermates after the initial fostering is done should be transferred to nurse sows where an entirely new litter(s) of older pigs is made. Milk replacers can also play a role in providing slower-growing or starving piglets more milk.