Use of Early Weaning to Reduce Pathogen Load


It is possible to reduce the number of pathogens and even eliminate some pathogens by the use of early weaning.  This programme utilizes the colostral antibodies that are transferred from the mother to her offspring within 6 to 12 hours of birth. This method however, is fraught with potential risks:

A)                The piglet may not consume any or sufficient colostrum

B)                The colostrum may not contain sufficient or any  antibodies to the desired pathogen

C)                The sow may be sick and not produce sufficient colostrum


If the group of piglets do consume sufficient antibodies from the colostrum, the following table provides a guide to the age of weaning required to ‘ensure’ that the piglets can be weaned free of the pathogen.  Note, rigorous testing and isolation procedures are also required to ensure that the whole programme is successful.  Note the pigs need to be weaned before maternal antibodies have waned.



Week when most antibody lost


Week 1

Escherichia coli

Week 2

Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus

Week 3

Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae.

Brachyspira hyodysenteriae

Haemophilus parasuis. 


Week 4

Pasteurella multocida and Bordetella bronchiseptica  (PAR)

Week 6-9

Aujeszky's Disease (Pseudorabies)


Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae



Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Swine Influenza Virus

Week 12


Week 24



As a guide 14 days should be the oldest to wean pigs to achieve a segregated weaning programme.