Pig Survivability Working Group Starts with Sow Mortality

01:05PM Jul 10, 2018
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The loss of pigs and sows prior to market is a significant drag on U.S. pork producers’ productivity, sustainability and profitability. In response, the Pork Checkoff established the Pig Survivability Working Group, comprised of producers, veterinarians, geneticists and related experts, whose first task was to identify key research areas and set priorities.

The Checkoff’s animal science committee has since committed nearly 80% of its 2018 research budget to mitigating pig death loss. 

The Sow Pelvic Organ Prolapse project is the first study in the multi-discipline search for piglet survivability answers. The research is funded by Pork Checkoff’s animal science and welfare committees.


Iowa State University was awarded the first study, which is looking into sow mortality rates, specifically organ prolapses. Funded by Checkoff’s animal science and welfare committees, researchers are providing weekly reports involving 93 farms and 353,152 sows, representing roughly 6 percent of the U.S. herd. Here are some of the early insights from the research to date:

  • 37% of sow mortalities fell into the “unknown” category, which illustrates the need for more precise reporting.
  • 30% of mortalities were due to lame/downed sows, indicating it’s still a significant problem.
  • 20% of mortalities were due to some form of organ prolapse. Researchers note that participating farms were selected based on their medium- to high-incidence of prolapses.