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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #192384


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

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/6/2006
Publication Date: 7/9/2006
Citation: Marchant Forde, J.N., Lay Jr, D.C., Marchant Forde, R., McMunn, K.A., Pajor, E.A., Cheng, H. 2006. Alternative piglet processing procedures given singly affect cortisol, behavior and growth. Journal of Animal Science. 84(1):412.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The effects of piglet processing procedures on behavior, growth and cortisol: Soon after birth, piglets undergo procedures that are a likely source of stress. Our aim was to evaluate stress responses evoked by two alternative methods for performing the following processing procedures: 1) teeth resection (TR) – clip vs. grind; 2) tail-docking (TD) – cold- vs. hot-clip; 3) identification (ID) – ear notch vs. tag; 4) iron administration (FE) – inject vs. oral; 5) castration (CA) – cords cut vs. torn. Ten litters of eight 2-3 day-old piglets were assigned to each procedure. Within each litter a male and a female piglet were assigned to one of 4 possible procedures: the two alternative methods, a sham procedure, and a sham procedure plus blood sampling. Piglets were balanced for weight. Blood was sampled before processing and at 45 min, 4h, 48h, 1wk, and 2wks post-procedure and assayed for cortisol. Procedures were video-taped and analyzed to evaluate time taken to perform the procedure and the number of squeals, grunts and escape attempts exhibited. Piglets were weighed before the procedure and at 24h, 48h, 1wk and 2wks afterwards. Lesions were scored on a 0 to 5 scale on ID, TD and CA pigs at 24h, 1 wk and 2wks post-procedure. Statistical analysis was performed using Proc GLM of SAS. For TR, grinding took about 20s longer than clipping and resulted in higher cortisol levels overall, poorer growth rates and more escape attempts (P<0.05). For TD, hot clipping took longer (P<0.05) and resulted in more squealing (P<0.001). For FE, oral delivery took longer and resulted in more squealing (P<0.05). For ID, notching took longer, resulted in higher lesion scores (P<0.05), more squealing (P<0.001), more escape attempts (P<0.01) and tended to result in higher cortisol concentrations (P<0.1). For CA, tearing took longer and resulted in more squealing and escape attempts (P<0.05). In general, procedures which took longer to perform resulted in the occurrence of more pronounced stress-related responses.