Adding organic iron in piglets drinking water during lactation may be an alternative to parenteral administration of inorganic iron.
Iron deficiency anaemia of piglets is an important pig production problem that causes stunted growth and increased mortality during lactation. Affected piglets exhibit dyspnea, fatigue, pale skin and mucous membranes and increased susceptibility to diseases.
Iron stores of piglets at birth are about 50 mg (Venn et al., 1947) and during the first weeks of life piglets double their weight while their plasma volume expands by 30% (Jain, 1986). Iron requirements for the synthesis of enough haemoglobin to prevent anaemia are high, at least 10 mg per day (Venn et al., 1947), but sow’s milk contributes only 1 mg daily (Kleinbeck and McGlone, 1999) and, since piglets have no access to soil, they need an exogenous supplement.
Traditionally, the route used to deliver exogenous iron is parenteral, as iron dextran, iron dextrin or gleptoferron, at doses of 150-200 mg per piglet in a single application during the first four days of life (Egeli and Framstad, 1999). Sometimes this iron also fails to meet the piglet’s needs because of its absorption kinetics, since between 10 and 50% can be retained in the inoculation site (Miller and Ullrey, 1999).