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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Research Project #434926

Research Project: Mitigating the Negative Effects of In Utero Heat Stress on Piglet Welfare Following Weaning and Transport

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-013-45-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Jul 9, 2018
End Date: Jun 10, 2020

Objective:
1) To evaluate the impact of in utero heat stress on the stress response and performance of piglets following weaning and transport in a production environment. 2) To evaluate potential mitigation of the negative effects of in utero heat stress on piglet welfare and performance by modifications of the diet and improving energy balance following weaning and transport stress.

Approach:
Recent reports indicate that pigs gestated in heat stress conditions (i.e., during hot summer months) are pre-disposed to having a greater stress response and an increase in maintenance energy requirements without a subsequent increase in feed intake to compensate. In order to mitigate this potential response, we propose that providing modified diets to prenatally heat-stressed pigs following weaning and transport would allow for improved energy balance, a reduced stress response, and overall improved well-being. Treatments will include a control diet and a modified diet, which will be provided to thermoneutral animals, as well as to heat-stressed animals. Pig performance (body weight, feed efficiency, feed intake), pig stress response, pig behavior (posture, illness behavior, aggression) and pig health will be determined for each of the 4 groups.