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Limb injuries, immune response and growth performance of early-weaned pigs in different housing systems

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards


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Three replicates of 20 pigs were weaned at 6.4 kg live weight into either: (a) deep-straw; (b) Straw-Flow; (c) large flatdeck; or (d) small flatdeck. A kenneled lying area was provided in (a) and (b). The floor in (c) and (d) was expanded metal. Stocking densities were 0.23 m² per pig in (a), (b) and (c) and 0.17 m² per pig in (d). After 4 to 5 weeks (19.6 kg liveweight), 16 pigs from each pen were moved into Straw-Flow grower pens (0.68 m² per pig) and observed until slaughter at 90.6 kg. The remaining pigs were grouped together to examine the effects of mixing. At weaning, 24.1% of pigs had foot injuries. Pigs with foot injuries recovered quickly on deep straw but the injuries increased in flatdecks immediately after weaning (Straw-Flow was intermediate). Injuries were more persistent in the small flatdeck. Deep-straw prevented adventitious bursitis of the hock. After 1 month in the grower pens, there was no residual treatment effect. Antibody response was examined by immune challenge with keyhole limpet haemocyanin (KLH). Immunoglobulin (Ig) response was greater in straw pens. Pigs mixed at 20 kg showed a decreased immune response to KLH challenge. Growth and food intake showed no treatment effects; feed conversion was poorer in (c) than in (b) or (d).

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kelly HRC, Bruce JM, English PR, Fowler VR, Edwards SA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Animal Science

Year: 2000

Volume: 70

Issue: 1

Pages: 73-83

ISSN (print): 0003-3561