Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Animal and Food Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Merlin D. Lindemann


The objectives of this thesis were: 1) to assess the iron status of piglets, 2) to thoroughly evaluate the blood profile, growth performance, and tissue mineral concentration of young pigs during the pre and postweaning periods after receiving various dosages of iron (0, 50, 100, 200, and 300 mg iron) at birth, 3) as well as evaluate the effects of an additional iron injection before weaning on hematological measures, growth performance, and tissue mineral concentration postweaning. In the initial experiment, there was a 60% incidence of iron deficiency at weaning after administration of a 150 mg iron injection at birth. Also at weaning, hemoglobin concentration was negatively correlated with BW and BW gain (r = -0.53, P < 0.0001, and r = -0.60, P < 0.0001 respectively). In the second experiment, pigs that were not injected with iron at birth had a major reduction in hematological measures, growth performance, and tissue iron concentration until d 52 where iron status was recovered but growth was not. Overall, ADG was improved in a linear and quadratic manner (P = 0.02 and P = 0.01 respectively) as the iron dosage increased with the largest improvement from the 0 mg to 50 mg iron treatment. The improvement observed in ADG let to similar increases (P = 0.02 and P = 0.01 respectively) in final BW as iron dosage treatments increased. Hemoglobin (Hb) concentration improved (P = 0.01) with increasing injectable iron as early as d 1 and continued to d 38, thereafter (d 52) no differences in Hb concentration were observed. Iron concentration for all tissues (liver, spleen, heart, and kidneys) at weaning was greater (P ≤ 0.01) as the iron dosage increased. In the third experiment, pigs that were supplemented with an additional iron injection 4 days before weaning had an increased ADG for the overall experimental period (31 to 34 d). The improved ADG during the experiment led to a heavier (P < 0.001) final BW (~1 kg) for pigs injected with an additional iron injection. At weaning, pigs injected with a second iron injection had higher (P < 0.001) hemoglobin concentration and other complete blood count measures. The improved Hb concentration observed at weaning continued 14 days later (P ≤ 0.02). Additionally, liver iron concentration was greater (P = 0.02) at weaning for the pigs receiving an additional iron injection. In summary, the initial iron injection administered at birth may not be adequate to satisfy all individual iron requirements of piglets before weaning, however, hematological measurements and tissue iron concentration do improve as the iron dosage increases at birth. Furthermore, injecting an additional iron injection before weaning improves nursery growth performance.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)