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Evaluation of Site and Age of Weaning on Piglet Growth Performance and Post-Weaning Behaviour and on Sow Productivity -Monograph

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Production by admin on July 7, 2017

Site segregated early weaning resulted in a consistent increase in 56-day body weight in all three experiments. Much of the increase can be attributed to enhanced feed intake, especially in the first few weeks after weaning. Later in the nursery, the benefit seemed to accrue from improved feed efficiency.

The very low weaning weight used in this study resulted in reduced sow productivity in the subsequent parity, raising questions regarding the practicality of weaning at 12 days under commercial practice. However, somewhat later weaning (> 15 days), which is more common in commercial practice anyway, might be a reasonable compromise .

Pigs weaned at 12 days of age are slower to develop normal levels of eating behaviour than those weaned at 21 days of age, but do so by 48 h after weaning. During the subsequent 5-6 weeks, early weaned pigs spend more time eating, drinking, nosing other pigs and chewing on objects. The differences in these oral activities appear to be greatest 2-4 weeks after weaning. In particular, nosing of other pigs is markedly greater in those weaned at 12 days of age, and reaches its peak 2-3 weeks after weaning.

The fact that the higher levels of nosing and chewing persist into the grow/finish period for early weaned pigs substantiates concerns that the early rearing environment may have a lasting effect on animal behaviour. However no definitive effect of these behaviours on productivity were found. Advances in SSEW technology and management, such as the inclusion of plasma protein in the diets, have not eliminated the behaviour related concerns related to early weaning.

Further studies are planned to look into the mechanisms which may be responsible for the difference in growth rate off- vs. on-site. Specifically, the next phase of research in this area, in collaboration with the Animal Biotechnology Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, will look at the role of the immune system, and endocrine system in off- vs on-site piglets weaned at 12 days of age. Answers to these questions may allow us to achieve similar performance in conventional all-in all-out nurseries located close to the farrow-finish enterprise without the added cost of going to multi-site production facilities.

Evaluation of site and Age of Weaning on Piglet growth Performance and Post-Weaning Behaviour on Sow Production

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