Piglets are born with eight sharp teeth that during nursing can cause facial lesions on littermates and teat lesions on the sow. Teeth grinding in piglets is therefore often practiced to reduce these lesions. The aim of this study was to assess the consequences of grinding piglet teeth in regard to the occurrence of lesions.
In this study the piglets' teeth were grinded in 28 litters, and in 36 litters the piglets' teeth were kept intact. Twice, one time during the first week and one time during the second week after birth facial lesions of the piglets were scored and the teats of the sows were examined for lesions. The facial lesion score accounted for the amount and severity of lesions. The individual observations on piglets in the litter were synthesized in a litter facial lesion score.
69.8% and 43.5% of the piglets had facial lesions in week 1 and week 2 respectively. The effect of treatment was not significant on litter facial lesion score. The litter facial lesion score was higher in week 1 than in week 2 (p < 0.001) and higher in large litters (p = 0.003) than in small litters. Mortality between week 1 and week 2 was higher in litters with intact teeth (p = 0.02). Sow teat lesions only occurred if litters had intact teeth.
According to our results teeth grinding is only justifiable in large litters.