Department of Animal Science Florida Agricultural
Mimeograph Series No. AN66-4 Experiment Station
September, 1965 Gainesville, Florida
PREVENTION OF BABY PIG ANEMIA BY THE EARLY CREEP FEEDING
OF A MIXTURE CONTAINING A HIGH LEVEL OF FERROUS FUMARATE
R. G. Conness, H. D. Wallace and G. E. Combs /
Iron deficiency anemia in the suckling pig has been the subject of constant
investigation for many years. A voluminous amount of literature has appeared ex-
ploring the efficacy of various prophylactic methods such as placing clean dirt in
the farrowing pen, swabbing the sow's udder with a ferrous sulfate solution, orally
administering an iron-containing pill, and parenterally administering commercial iron
preparations. The results obtained from the majority of the recent reports have gen-
erally demonstrated the superiority of injectable iron in preventing or alleviating
symptoms of anemia in the baby pig.
Numerous studies have demonstrated that supplemental iron is poorly absorbed
from the gastrointestinal tract. However, in spite of the low absorption percentage
of iron, a number of reports have demonstrated that hemoglobin levels of baby pigs
receiving orally administered iron compare favorably with levels from pigs adminis-
tered iron parenterally. For this reason, and because of the expense involved in
parenteral administration of iron, this study was undertaken to determine the effect-
iveness of offering a creep feeding mixture containing a high concentration of iron
Forty-nine litters of pigs born from gilts and parous sows were involved in the
three trials of this experiment. The litters were farrowed in farrowing stalls with-
in a central house floored with concrete. They remained in these stalls for approx-
imately one week, at which time they were moved to pens in the same house for the
duration of the trials. During the initial week the litters were maintained in the
farrowing stalls, the creep mixtures were offered in shallow metal troughs. Small
metal self feeders were used after the litters were moved to the pens.
Within twenty-four hours after the last pig in each litter was born, all pigs
were identified by ear notching. Initial weights and blood samples were taken at
the time of marking. Final weights and blood samples were taken at three weeks of
age. Pigs were allotted within litters to the respective treatment groups accord-
ing to initial weights and hemoglobin levels. Those pigs with extremely low hemo-
globin levels were not allotted to treatments. Approximately one half of the pigs
I/ Conness, Research Assistant; Wallace, Animal Nutritionist; and Combs, Associate
Animal Nutritionist, Animal Science Department. The assistance of B. R. Cannon
and L. S. Taylor, swine herdsmen, is gratefully acknowledged.
in each litter received an intramuscular injection of iron dextran (100 mg. of iron)
at three days of age. The remaining pigs in each litter served as controls and did
not receive injections.
Seventeen litters, involving 121 pigs, were randomly allotted at farrowing to
one of two treatment groups. One treatment group was offered a creep feeding diet
(Table I) containing 22.5 gm. of elemental iron as ferrous fumarate per pound of
feed. The other treatment group was not offered a creep feed.
Sixteen litters consisting of 139 pigs were used to further evaluate the ery-
thropoietic effect of creep feeding ferrous fumarate. The experimental procedures
in this trial were the same as in Trial I.
Table 1. Composition of experimental creep mixture fed suckling pigs in
Trials I and II.
Ingredient % In Mixture
Ground yellow corn 33.00
Dried skimmilk 20.00
Soybean oilmeal (50%) 8.50
Cane sugar 10.00
Stabilized animal fat 3.00
Iodized salt 0.50
Ferrous fumarate premix / 25.00
./ Ferrous fumarate premix contains 19.4% elemental iron.
Trial Ill was conducted to determine if reducing the amount of ferrous fumarate
in the creep mixture to 9.0 grams of iron per pound of mixed feed would be effective
in preventing the occurrence of anemia in the nursing pigs. The purpose of the re-
duction in iron level was to lower the cost of the creep mixture and possibly im-
prove acceptability of the feed by the young pig.
Sixteen litters involving 118 pigs were randomly allotted at farrowing to one
of three treatment groups. Two creep mixtures (Table 2) containing ferrous fumarate
as a source of iron were offered immediately after obtaining initial weights and
blood samples. The levels of iron in the two creep mixtures were 9.0 and 22.5
grams per pound of mixed feed. One third of the litters farrowed were not offered
a creep mixture.
Table 2. Composition of
in Trial Ill.
experimental creep mixtures fed suckling pigs
Ingredient (P) Low Iron Ration High Iron Ration
Ground yellow corn 48.00 33.00
Dried skimmilk 20.00 20.00
Soybean oilmeal (50%) 8.50 8.50
Cane sugar 10.00 10.00
Stabilized animal fat 3.00 3.00
Iodized salt 0.50 0.50
Ferrous fumarate premix 1/ I0.00 25.00
I/ Ferrous fumarate premix contains 19.4% elemental iron.
Results and Discussion
A summary of the overall results obtained in Trial I are presented in Table 3.
The three-week hemoglobin levels of the creep fed pigs were significantly higher
(P<.01) than hemoglobin levels of pigs not given the creep feed. The iron dextran
injections also significantly (P<.01) elevated the hemoglobin levels above those
from pigs not receiving the injections. The average hemoglobin level of the creep
fed non-injected group was 12.03 grams percent with a range of 7.6 to 15.1 grams
percent. This would suggest that the methods employed in this trial provide a read-
ily accessible source of iron.
The weight gains to three weeks of age were significantly (P <.05) in favor of
those pigs receiving iron dextran injections. Creep feeding the iron fumarate mix-
ture did not significantly affect weight gains up to three weeks of age. However,
the iron supplemented pigs did average approximately 0.5 lb. heavier at this age.
The total amount of creep feed offered during Trial I was 44 pounds. The entire
amount was not consumed by the suckling pigs. A considerable portion of the creep
mixture was discarded since the metal troughs used as creep feeders were accessible
to contamination from feces and bedding.
Table 3. Effect of offering a creep mixture containing ferrous fumarate on weight gains and
hemoglobin levels of suckling pigs In Trial I.
Creep-fed Not Creep-fed
Treatments Injected Not Injected Injected Not Injected
Number of pigs 31 33 29 28
Av. initial weight, Ibs. 3.03 3.03 2.96 2.95
Av. 3-week weight, Ib. 10.52 10.03 10.45 8.86
Av. 3-week gain, Ib. 7.47a (7.22)L/ 6.99a 7.44a (6.70)2/ 5.94b
Av. initial hemoglobin, gm. % 7.93 7.99 8.87 8.77
Av. 3-week hemoglobin, gm. % 12.05c (12.04)1/ 12.03c 8.12d (6.55)2/ 4.93e
I/ Mean values for all pigs receiving the creep mixture.
2/ Mean values for all pigs not receiving the creep mixture.
a,b Means with different superscript letters significantly different (P<.05).
c,d,e Means with different superscript letters significantly different (P<.01).
In general, the results of Trial II (Table 4) agree closely with those obtained
in Trial I. The three-week hemoglobin levels of the creep fed pigs were significant-
ly (P<.01) higher than levels from pigs not receiving the creep feed. An injection
of iron dextran also significantly (P<.01) raised the hemoglobin levels.
The weight gains to three weeks of age were not significantly affected by eith-
er creep feeding or iron dextran injections. However, the mean values show the same
improvement trends observed in Trial I.
Thirty-eight pounds of creep feed were offered to the suckling pigs in this
trial. As in Trial I, a portion of this was discarded upon becoming contaminated
with feces and bedding and the exact amount consumed was not determined.
Table 5 presents a summary of the observations made on nursing pigs creep fed
two levels of elemental iron; 9.0 and 22.5 grams per pound of mixed feed. A highly
significant (P <.01) difference in final hemoglobin levels in favor of creep feeding
was found. Iron injections were also significantly (P<.01) effective in raising
the hemoglobin levels. A range of 8.3 to 14.5 grams percent in final hemoglobin
levels of the non-injected group receiving the 9.0 grams of iron per pound of feed
implied that this level of iron, under the conditions involved in this experiment,
might be adequate to meet the erythropoietic needs of the suckling pig.
The weight gains to three weeks of age were not significantly affected by treat-
A total of twenty-five pounds of each creep mixture was offered during this
trial. There was, however, as in the previous trials, a considerable portion dis-
carded in order to provide a fresh mixture. Whether the baby pigs preferred the
creep mixture containing the lower level of iron could not be determined from this
Three trials were conducted to study the effectiveness of a creep feeding mix-
ture containing ferrous fumarate as a prophylaxis for baby pig anemia. Two levels
of ferrous fumarate (9.0 and 22.5 grams of elemental iron per pound of mixed feed)
in the creep feeding mixtures were studied in this experiment. Both levels of iron
maintained hemoglobin values significantly (P<.01) above those from a control group
which was not offered a creep feed. Hemoglobin levels of pigs receiving the ferrous
fumarate containing creep mixtures compared favorably with the hemoglobin levels from
pigs administered a single injection of iron dextran (100 mg. of iron).
The weight gains to three weeks of age favored those pigs receiving iron eith-
er from the creep feeding mixture or from the iron dextran injections.
These results indicate that offering a creep feeding mixture containing ferrous
fumarate would provide an adequate source of iron if fed under conditions similar
to those utilized in this experiment.
Table 4. Effect of offering a creep mixture containing ferrous fumarate on weight gains and
hemoglobin levels of suckling pigs in Trial II.
Creep-fed Not Creep-fed
Treatments Injected Not Injected injected Not Injected
Number of pigs 34 34 38 39
Av. initial weight, Ib. 3.27 3.29 2.99 3.00
Av. 3-week weight, Ibs. 9.73 8.99 9.03 8.57
Av. 3 week weight gain, lb. 6.45 (6.08)- 5.71 5.91 (5.71)2/ 5.53
Av. initial hemoglobin, gm. % 10.16 10.38 9.84 9.87
Av. final hemoglobin, gm. % 12.92a (13.18)-/ 13.44a 10.62b (8.70)2/ 6.91C
J/ Mean values for all pigs receiving the creep feeding mixture.
2/ Mean values for all pigs not receiving the creep feeding mixture.
a,b,c Means with different superscript letters significantly different (P <.01)
Table 5. Effect of offering creep mixtures containing two levels of ferrous fumarate on
weight gains and hemoglobin levels of suckling pigs in Trial III.
Control 9.0 am. of Iron 22.5 qm. of Iron
Treatment Injected Not Injected Not Injected Not
Injected Injected Injected
Number of pigs 23 24 18 20 17 16
Av. initial wt., lb. 2.99 2.95 3.50 3.49 3.16 3.18
Av. 3-week wt., lb. 8.71 8.08 9.47 / 9.78 9.26 8.57
Av. 3-week wt. gain, Ib. 5.72 (5.42)- 5.14 5.97 (6.14)-2 6.29 6.10 (5.75)3/ 5.38
Av. initial hemoglobin, gm. % 9.65 9.94 8.61 8.48 10.31 10.97
Av. final hemoglobin, gm. % 10.97 (9.07) 7.25 12.45a (11.54)/ 10.72b 13.55a (12.30)- 10.97b
I/ Mean values for all pigs not receiving a creep mixture.
2/ Mean values for all pigs receiving a creep mixture containing 9.0 gm. of iron per pound as ferrous fumarate.
3/ Mean values for all pigs receiving a creep mixture containing 22.5 gm. of iron per pound as ferrous
a,b,c Means with different superscript letters significantly different (P<.01).