Could Sucker Piglet Anaemia be a Pre-Disposing Factor for Peri-Weaning Failure to Thrive Syndrome? – Pilot Study

Project goal

Determine the correlation between piglet iron levels at weaning and PFTS incidence in order to reduce incidence through iron supplementation. 

Project summary

Peri-weaning failure to thrive syndrome (PFTS) or ‘wasting’ is a condition in which large, healthy weaner pigs become anorexic, resulting in starvation or euthanasia. Up to two-thirds of mortality in the immediate post-weaning phase are related to wasting that does not respond to any current treatment practice. The ability to reduce the incidence rate of PFTS would be of significant benefit to producers.

This project aimed to determine the correlation between piglet and sow iron levels pre-farrowing (sows), during lactation (sows and piglets) and after weaning (piglets) and the rate of PFTS incidence and the ability to influence piglet iron levels through additional iron supplementation.

Value for producers:

  • Improving piglet iron levels aims to reduce the number of piglets that fail to thrive after weaning.
  • Identifies best intervention point for a second dose of supplemental iron.


  • Maintenance of iron levels post-weaning does not appear to be adequately maintained through iron fortification of the nursery diets.
  • Findings suggest that additional sow interventions would not result in improvements in piglet iron levels, and therefore direct interventions with the piglet are required to improve iron levels and thus performance.
Research enquiries