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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Impact of Routine Piglet Processing Procedures on Well-Being. I. Teeth Resection, Tail-Docking, and Castration

Authors
item Lay, Jr, Donald
item Marchant-Forde, Jeremy
item Marchant-Forde, Ruth
item McMunn, Kimberly
item Cheng, Heng Wei

Submitted to: International Society of Applied Ethology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: May 3, 2006
Publication Date: June 8, 2006
Citation: Lay Jr, D.C., Marchant Forde, J.N., Marchant Forde, R., McMunn, K.A., Cheng, H. 2006. The impact of routine piglet processing procedures on well-being. i. teeth resection, tail-docking, and castration. Proceedings of the North American Regional Meeting of the International Society of Applied Ethology. p. 46.

Technical Abstract: Several potentially painful procedures are performed on piglets soon after birth. These procedures include teeth resection, tail docking, and castration. Several experiments were conducted to determine if less painful alternatives could be identified. Three experiments were conducted to compare: 1) teeth resection (TR) – clip vs. grind; 2) tail-docking (TD) – cold vs. hot-clip; 3) castration (CA) – cords cut vs. torn. Eight to ten litters of eight, 2-3 day-old piglets were assigned to each procedure. Within each litter, 2 piglets were assigned to 1 of 4 possible procedures: the two alternative methods, a sham procedure, and a sham procedure plus blood sampling. Blood was sampled before, and at 45 min, 4h, 48h, 1wk, and 2wks post-procedure and assayed for cortisol and beta-endorphin. Procedures were video-taped to evaluate the time taken to perform the procedure and the number of squeals, grunts and escape attempts. Piglets were weighed before the procedure and at +24h, +48h, +1wk and +2wks. Wounds were scored on a 0 to 5 scale on TD and CA pigs at +24h, +1wk and +2wks. The pigs from the TD experiment were euthanized and tails collected to determine the extent of neuroma formation. For TR, grinding took about 20s longer than clipping and resulted in greater cortisol concentrations overall, poorer growth rates, more escape attempts and longer vocalizations (P<0.05). For TD, hot clipping took longer (P<0.05) and resulted in more, longer and higher frequency squealing (P<0.001). Neuromas were greater in cold-clipped tails but all of these pigs had damage due to tail biting (P<0.05). For CA, tearing took longer and resulted in more squealing (P<0.05). Treatment effects could not be separated from the fact that those treatments proving to be more detrimental require more time to perform. Producers should choose processing procedures that are quick in order to minimize stress to pigs.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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