Piglet Health and Welfare in the Nursery
Weaning causes piglets to experience acute stress due to sudden changes in the social group, the environment and in diet. It often leads to aggression, weight loss, diarrhea, belly nosing and disease. Weaning in intensive farm units is much different from wild pigs. Stimulating early food intake is important as they will be more familiar with solid food. The best practice for this is to stimulate exploration and social interaction like through feeding trays or floor feeding until they are eating readily (3-4 days post-weaning). Moistened feed is also more attractive than dry feed for piglets. Push lever bowl drinkers reduce water wastage and belly nosing compared to nipple drinkers. Weaning stress is also reduced by intermittent suckling as it prepares the piglets for sow separation. Piglets learn fastest when observing their litter mates and the sow. Without this, they avoid new objects and food. Some farrowing systems have a common feeding area which allows more interaction. Enrichments are also recommended for piglets.
Piglet Health and Welfare in the Nursery (full article)