Submitted to: International Society of Applied Ethology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/15/2005
Publication Date: 8/22/2005
Citation: Marchant Forde, J.N., Lay Jr, D.C., Mcmunn, K.A., Richert, B.T., Marchant Forde, R. 2005. Effects of albuterol on behavior and physyiology of finishing pigs. International Society of Applied Ethology. p. 65.
Technical Abstract: Beta-agonists used by swine industries in a number of countries, have positive effects on swine productivity but may have negative effects on behavioral and physiological responses to handling. A pure form of albuterol may deliver similar production effects without negative effects on well-being. The experiment looked at the effects of albuterol on behavior and physiology over a 5-week period. The study used 192 pigs (88.8±0.9 kg BW) housed in groups of six in 32 pens (1.4m x 4.1m) and assigned to one of four treatments: 1) Control – standard finishing ration, 2) ALB-2 – diet with 2 ppm of the pure R-enantiomer of albuterol, 3) ALB-4 – diet with 4 ppm of pure R-albuterol, or 4) ALB-RS8 – diet with 8 ppm of a racemic mixture of R- and S-enantiomers. All diets were energietically similar and were offered ad libitum for 4 weeks. One pig from each pen had blood collected four times: Wk 0 - prior to treatment, during Wk 2, during Wk 4 and at slaughter at the end of Wk 4. Blood was analyzed for cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Behavioral responses of all pigs to handling were recorded at Wk 0 and at weekly intervals during Wk1-Wk4. Behavioral and heart rate (HR) responses to a 10-min human presence test in the home pen were measured during Wk 0, Wk1 and Wk3. Finally, HR responses to 5-min loading, 26-min transport and 5-min unloading periods were recorded. Data were analyzed using Proc GLM of SAS, with pen as the experimental unit. There were no treatment differences in cortisol, epinephrine or norepinephrine concentrations during the experimental diet period (P>0.1). Treatment had no effect on handling measures (P>0.1). Treatment also had no effect on behavioral responses to human presence, with all pigs spending similar amounts of time close to, and interacting with the human. However, during the human presence test in wk1 and wk3, control pigs had heart rates around 10 bpm lower (P<0.05) than pigs in the other three treatments. During transport, overall HR were similar across treatments, but at certain 1-minute time points, control pigs had higher HR than albuterol-treated pigs (P<0.05). The results indicate that albuterol-treated pigs do not show differences in behavioral and heart rate responses to handling and transportation from control pigs.