Improved animal welfare and economy: More live-born baby pigs per litter

April 6, 2017

New project collaboration between the University of Copenhagen and Pharmacosmos aims to improve health in swine herds and reduce mortality among baby pigs

Both in Denmark and abroad swine producers are constantly looking for opportunities to optimize health, welfare, resource utilization and the economics of pork production. A constant point of focus is the improvement in the survival of the baby pigs. In this instance, project LiveBorn could potentially play an important role for both animal welfare and swine production economics.

"We have indications of a relationship between iron deficiency anemia in the pregnant sow and an elevated still-birth rate, but this is the first time we try to show that treatment of the sow can actually lead to more live-born baby pigs," says Jens Peter Nielsen, professor and head of section for Production, Nutrition and Health at University of Copenhagen's Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. In 2015, there was an average of 1.6 to 1.7 stillborn baby pigs per litter in Denmark, equivalent to ~9% of the litter. This means there is a quite a large gain for animal welfare and for the swine producer economics if the survival rate of the baby pigs can be improved.

Pharmacosmos is looking forward to launching the LiveBorn project with the investment from Innovation Fund Denmark - and via cooperation with the University of Copenhagen to seeking a better understanding of the significance of iron for the health of the sow and her offspring.

"Standard of care today is to treat the live-born baby pigs for sub-clinical or full-scale iron deficiency anemia shortly after the farrowing. This is a well-documented healthcare procedure; however, we also believe the potential for treating anemic sows is large. It will be a big plus for animal welfare and the swine producer economy if we can demonstrate that treatment of the sow leads to more live-born baby pigs," says Christian von der Recke, Sales and Business Director, Veterinary Iron at Pharmacosmos.

If the project is successful then, in addition to the scientific advances made, it will lead to development of a new iron preparation for treating pregnant, anemic sows. Pharmacosmos will then seek to market this product in all relevant swine producing countries.

University of Copenhagen, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences - Professor Jens Peter Nielsen,

Pharmacosmos, Holbaek - VP Corporate Development & Strategy, Tobias S. Christensen,

Innovation Fund Denmark investment: 18.7 million DKK ($2,681,000 USD)

Total project budget: 38.5 million DKK ($5,520,000 USD)

Project duration: 5 years

Official project title: LiveBorn - Iron injection product for anemic sows to reduce the stillborn rate in pig production

Project facts

  • LiveBorn is a 5-year project collaboration between Professor Jens Peter Nielsen at the University of Copenhagen and healthcare company Pharmacosmos in Holbaek, West Zealand, Denmark.
  • Together they will investigate the significance of iron deficiency anemia in pregnant sows and will aspire to develop a medical product to treat the condition.
  • Innovation Fund Denmark invests 18.7 million DKK ($2,681,000 USD) out of a total budget of 38.5 million DKK ($5,520,000 USD)


Source of still-birth rate:



Published: 9 June 2016

About Uniferon

Uniferon is a modern improved iron hydrogenated dextran based on a natural formula, which is approved for global use:

Uniferon is manufactured without the use of any organic solvents or cyanide, thus, avoiding trace residues of these impurities. Pharmacosmos manufactures iron dextran of high quality and unique purity for customers worldwide. Uniferon is the only injectable iron brand for piglets approved in the EU, the US and Asia.

About Pharmacosmos

Headquartered in Denmark, Pharmacosmos is a family-owned, international healthcare company with more than 50 years of innovation and leadership in iron- and carbohydrate-based treatments and solutions for human and animal use.

A research-based company, its ongoing R&D programme focuses on improving the lives of patients with iron deficiency with or without anaemia. More than 1 billion people live with iron deficiency anaemia and it is the leading cause of death for an estimated 180,000 people every year. This makes it one of the largest global health challenges of our time.

Pharmacosmos has subsidiaries in the Nordics, the UK and the US and its products are marketed in more than 80 countries across the world. Its manufacturing facilities are approved, among others, by the Danish Medicines Agency and the US FDA.