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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

A National Pork Board funded project is being conducted by Dr. Susan D. Eicher and Purdue University to study “Transport lairage effects on well-being of 18 kg pigs using a multi-disciplinary approach.” The objectives of this research are to determine social interactions and maintenance behaviors during and up to 72 hours after transport associated with lairage or continuous transport that may affect pathogen susceptibility, changes in intestinal microbial populations with and without lairage during a 16 hour transport of grower pigs, alterations in peripheral and intestinal innate immunity associated with feed and water withholding of continuous transport and the social and physical stressors of lairage, and to develop recommendations.
On March 28, 2004. Heng-wei Cheng, neuroscientist, ARS Livestock Behavior Research Unit, West Lafayette, was awarded a grant by the Maryland Agricultural Experiment Station (MAES) for Co-investigation of artificial marking of domestic fowl on behavior, stress, and performance. The goal is to develop stress indicators to evaluate animal well-being.
Dr. Heng-wei Cheng has established collaborative research on Genetic Selection and Animal Well-Being with Dr. W.M. Muir at Purdue University. The results from this study have demonstrated that animal well-being can be improved through genetic selection. Some of selection-related changes of physiological and behavioral parameters can be used as indicators for evaluation of an animal’s capability to adapt to its environment.
Dr. Heng-wei Cheng has also established collaborative research on bill trimming in ducks with Purdue University and UC Davis. The results from this study indicated that bill trimming in ducks causes acute pain and connective tissue scaring in the bill stumps. An ongoing study will provide information about whether bill trimming causes neuromas in the bill stump.
Dr. Heng-wei Cheng is currently collaborating with Big Dutchmen to research the Effects of Enriched vs. Battery Cages in Hen’s Well-Being. The results from this study indicated that some physiological and behavioral parameters of laying hens, such as bone density and dust behavior, can be improved through enriched cages. In addition, the study demonstrated that evaluation of a housing system should be based on multiple indicators from multiple biological systems.
Collaborative research on the Effect of Artificial Marking on Chickens’ Behavior and Stress has been conducted by Dr. Estevez, University of Marylyand and Dr. Heng-wei Cheng. Artificial marking has widely been used in animal research for identification of individual animal. The results from this study indicated that an animal’s behavior and stress response can be affected by artificial marking. The study provides the basis for development of reliable guidelines for animal research.
Collaborative research on The Impact of Routine Piglet processing on Well-Being has been conducted by Dr. Jeremy Marchant-Forde and the National Pork Board. This study is to examine the effects of routine processing, tail docking, ear notching and castration, on piglets’ well-being. The results will provide the basis of development of guidelines for the swine industry practices.
Dr. Donald C. Lay Jr. is currently conducting research with Auburn University to study the molecular response in pigs to the effects of heat stress.
A NRI-USDA funded grant is being conducted with Mississippi State University. Dr. Donald C. Lay Jr. will be determining the development of a novel paradigm for the real-time monitoring of bacteria pathogenicity in swine.
Dr. Jeremy Marchant-Forde has been in collaboration with Stirling products to study the effects of levalbuterol. The objectives of this pilot research project are to evaluate the effects of levalbuterol and racemic albuterol on a target animal safety, production economics, worker safety, and animal welfare.

Last Modified: 7/12/2006