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ARS Home » Plains Area » Clay Center, Nebraska » U.S. Meat Animal Research Center » Nutrition and Environmental Management Research » Research » Research Project #430714

Research Project: Enhancing the Health and Well-Being of Preweaning Piglets

Location: Nutrition and Environmental Management Research

Project Number: 3040-31000-097-01-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Mar 1, 2016
End Date: Jun 14, 2020

1) Evaluate the impact of different farrowing crate sizes and layouts (conventional crate, expanded creep area, expanded sow area) with one vs. two localized heat sources on preweaning piglet health and mortality. 2) Quantify the postural behaviors of sows before parturition and during lactation as affected by crate size and localized heat source location; and distribution of piglets in the crate. 3) Assess the relationship between surface temperature of the piglets and their health status.

For Objective 1, a 3 × 2 factorial design will compare two sizes of farrowing pens (5×7 ft, 6×8 ft with expanded creep area, and 6x8 ft with expanded sow area) and two heat lamp placements (one side vs. both sides of the sow). Each regimen will be replicated 9 times each farrowing cycle and repeated over time. An image-recording and analysis system, consisting of a kinect camera , image recording logger, and data storage, will be placed over each crate and will capture both depth (3-D) and digital images at a frequency of 5 seconds. For Objective 2, 10 farrowing sows in conventional-size pens (5×7 ft) will be monitored for resting postures throughout lactation. A heat lamp (175W) will be placed on one side of the sow for five of the 10 pens and on the opposite side of the sow in the other five pens. The images will be analyzed to determine if the sows have any preference on which side to rest. For Objective 3, surface temperatures of the piglets will be collected a 1 day of age, and will be analyzed with the thermography imaging system. It has been noted during our previous studies that piglets failing to acquire colostrum quickly develop a reduced skin surface temperature. To further define this interaction, adequate colostrum acquisition by piglets will be assessed using the Ig immunocrit on day one. Scouring and other disease incidence typically occur with elevated skin temperature. To assess the utility of thermography to detect disease incidence, daily health will be assessed by trained personnel for the incidence of scouring and other disease onset. Correlation analysis will then be conducted to determine relationships among thermography, colostrum acquisition and piglet health.