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Journal of Animal Science Abstract - Environment

Postnatal piglet husbandry practices and well-being: The effects of alternative techniques delivered separately12


This article in

  1. Vol. 87 No. 4, p. 1479-1492
    Received: Apr 01, 2008
    Accepted: Oct 29, 2008
    Published: December 5, 2014

    3 Corresponding author(s):

  1. J. N. Marchant-Forde*3,
  2. D. C. Lay Jr.*,
  3. K. A. McMunn*,
  4. H. W. Cheng*,
  5. E. A. Pajor and
  6. R. M. Marchant-Forde*4
  1. USDA-ARS, Livestock Behavior Research Unit, and
    Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907


The aim of this study was to evaluate stress responses evoked by 2 alternative methods for performing the following processing procedures: 1) teeth resection—clipping vs. grinding; 2) tail docking—cold vs. hot clipping; 3) identification—ear notch vs. tag; 4) iron administration—injection vs. oral; 5) castration—cords cut vs. torn. Eight to 10 litters of 8-, 2-, and 3-d-old piglets were assigned to each procedure. Within each litter, 2 piglets were assigned to 1 of 4 possible procedures: the 2 alternative methods, a sham procedure, and a sham procedure plus blood sampling. Blood was sampled before processing and at 45 min, 4 h, 48 h, 1 wk, and 2 wk postprocedure and assayed for cortisol and β-endorphin. Procedures were videotaped and analyzed to evaluate the time taken to perform the procedure and the number of squeals, grunts, and escape attempts. Vocalizations were analyzed to determine mean and peak frequencies and duration. Piglets were weighed before the procedure and at 24 h, 48 h, 1 wk, and 2 wk afterward. Lesions were scored on a scale of 0 to 5 on pigs in the identification, tail docking, and castration treatments at 24 h, 1 wk, and 2 wk postprocedure. For teeth resection, grinding took longer than clipping and resulted in greater cortisol concentration overall, poorer growth rates, and longer vocalizations compared with pigs in the control treatment (P < 0.05). For tail docking, hot clipping took longer, and hot-clipped piglets grew slower than cold-clipped piglets (P < 0.05). Hot clipping also resulted in longer and higher frequency squealing compared with pigs in the control treatment (P < 0.01). For identification, ear notching took longer than tagging, and ear-notched piglets had worse wound scores than tagged piglets (P < 0.05). Cortisol concentrations at 4 h also tended to be greater for ear-notched piglets (P < 0.10). Ear notching evoked calls with higher peak frequencies than the control treatments. For iron administration, oral delivery took numerically longer than injecting, but there were no significant differences between injecting and oral delivery for any of the measures. For castration, tearing took longer than cutting the cords (P < 0.05), but β-endorphin concentrations at 45 min postprocedure were greater for cut piglets. When measures of behavior, physiology, and productivity were used, the responses to teeth resection, tail docking, and identification were shown to be altered by the procedural method, whereas responses to iron administration and castration did not differ. The time taken to carry out the procedure would appear to be an important factor in the strength of the stress response.

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