Skip to main content
ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #194668


item Marchant, Jeremy
item Lay Jr, Donald
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: 5/5/2006
Publication Date: 6/8/2006
Citation: Marchant Forde, J.N., Lay Jr, D.C., Marchant Forde, R., Mcmunn, K.A., Cheng, H. 2006. The impact of routine piglet processing procedures on well-being. ii. identification, iron administration and combined processing. Proceedings of the North American Regional Meeting of the International Society of Applied Ethology. p. 48.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: After birth, piglets undergo procedures which are likely to cause pain. Our aim was to evaluate responses evoked by alternative methods for performing the following: identification (ID) - ear notch vs. tag; iron administration (FE) - injection vs. oral; combination (ALL) - teeth grinding, hot iron tail-docking, ear notching, oral iron dosing, castration with cords torn (MOST aversive) vs. teeth clipping, cold tail-docking, ear tagging, iron injecting, castration with cords cut (LEAST aversive). Ten litters of eight, 3 day-old piglets were assigned to each procedure. Within each litter, 2 piglets were assigned to each treatment: 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. Procedures were video-taped to determine the time taken to carry out 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 at +24h, +1 wk and +2wks. For ID, notching took 11s longer, resulted in higher wound scores (P<0.05), more and higher frequency squealing (P<0.001), more escape attempts (P<0.01) and tended to result in higher cortisol concentrations (P<0.1). For FE, oral dosing took 4s longer and resulted in more squealing (P<0.05). The MOST combination took 45s longer than LEAST and MOST pigs performed more squeals than the two control treatments (P<0.07) and these were higher in frequency (P<0.05). ALL male pigs in both processed treatments exhibited elevated plasma cortisol at +45 min as compared to Control pigs (P<0.001). When studied singly, notching significantly increased multiple indicators of welfare compared with tagging and oral dosing iron increased some indicators compared with injecting. However, when applied collectively, MOST procedures showed little disadvantage over LEAST, perhaps indicating that the time taken to process collectively results in fairly maximal stress responses regardless of the techniques used.