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PORCINE periweaning failure-to-thrive syndrome (PFTS) is a clinical condition of newly weaned pigs characterised by anorexia and progressive debilitation in the absence of discernible infectious, nutritional, management or environmental factors (Huang and others 2011). For a long time, the pig industry has observed pigs that fail to adapt to feed after weaning. Referred to as ‘postweaning starve-outs’, they are typically considered an acceptable production loss because they comprise a small percentage of the total population weaned. In 2008, veterinarians in North America began to report outbreaks of ‘postweaning starve-outs’ (Dufresne and others 2008, Gauvreau and Harding 2008). In the affected farms, up to 15 per cent of the newly weaned pigs were affected, which greatly elevated the nursery mortality (piglets are typically weaned at three weeks of age in North America). Antibiotic treatments were typically not effective, and most affected pigs died or were humanly euthanased. This condition was referred to by different names including postweaning catabolic syndrome, postweaning wasting-catabolic syndrome, failure-to-thrive syndrome, and postweaning fading pig-anorexia syndrome, until the consensus name of PFTS was adopted in 2010 (Huang and others 2011).
The epidemiology of PFTS is still not well characterised. A survey in North America reported that 4.3 per …