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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SAFEGUARDING WELL-BEING OF FOOD PRODUCING ANIMALS

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Title: Behavioral changes in neonatal swine after an 8-hour rest during prolonged transportation

Authors
item Williams, J -
item Marchant-Forde, Jeremy
item Richert, Brian -
item Eicher, Susan

Submitted to: Journal of Animal Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 8, 2012
Publication Date: September 1, 2012
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/56678
Citation: Williams, J.L., Marchant Forde, J.N., Richert, B.T., Eicher, S.D. 2012. Behavioral changes in neonatal swine after an 8-hour rest during prolonged transportation. Journal of Animal Science. 90:3213-3219.

Interpretive Summary: Long distance transportation of weaned piglets is an increasingly common practice in the U.S. and may result in detrimental behavior in neonatal swine. A potential solution is a mid-journey rest. The objective of this study was to determine if a mid-journey rest-stop was beneficial for behavior after a 16-hour transport. Pigs were transported for 8 h, given a rest with food and water or transported continuously for 16 hours. In both treatments, sitting occurred most prior to transport. Standing increased for both treatments immediately after transport through d 6, but returned to pre-transport values by d 13. In contrast, lying deceased after transport, but returned to above pre-transport values by d 13. Many behaviors changed over the time that they were observed, demonstrating a stress created by the transport. Day effects were evident for activity, manipulation of pens, rooting, initiation of belly-nosing (a social interaction often seen with stress), and receiving belly-nosing. Aggression did not differ for day or treatment. Only one behavior, initiation of play, was affected by the transportation treatment, more play was initiated by pigs that had the rest-stop. Pigs that were transported continuously, walked less pre-transport, but walked more post-transport and drank less pre-transport, however those pigs drank more on all days post-transport than the lairage group. This study indicates that extended transport without lairage altered the way young pigs spent time after transport and the addition of a mid-journey rest period had positive implications on the welfare of neonatal pigs by creating less need to drink and therefore walk immediately after transport, allowing more rest time. Therefore, a rest-stop, at a sanatized facility with access to feed and water, could benefit pigs during their recovery period when transported for 16 hours.

Technical Abstract: Long distance transportation of weaned piglets is an increasingly common practice in the U.S. and may result in detrimental behavior in neonatal swine. A potential solution is a mid-journey rest. The objective of this study was to determine if a mid-journey rest (lairage) was beneficial for behavior after a 16-hour transport. Eighteen-kg pigs were housed in 16 pens with 8 pens/treatment. Lairage (La) pigs were transported for 8 h, given a rest with food and water for 8 h, then transported 8 more hours. Four focal pigs per pen were chosen to analyze based on sex and weight, one heaviest, one lightest and two average weight pigs relative to the average weight of the pen. Behaviors were recorded for 24 hours immediately prior to transport, for 24 hours immediately following transport, and during d 6 and d 13 post-transport. Piglet postures including lying, sitting and standing, and behavioral categories including inactivity, activities (eating, drinking, alert, manipulating pen, rooting and walking) and social interactions (aggression, belly nosing, playing, tail biting and positive social) were observed and recorded using a 10 minute interval scan sampling technique. In both treatments, sitting occurred most prior to transport (P = 0.0001), but did not differ between treatments. Standing increased (main effect of d; P = 0.0001) for both treatments immediately after transport through d 6, but returned to pre-transport values by d 13. In contrast, lying deceased (main effect of d; P = 0.0001) after transport, but returned to above pre-transport values by d 13. Day effects were evident for activity (P = 0.0001), manipulation of pens (P = 0.05), rooting (P = 0.001), initiation of belly-nosing (P = 0.007), and receiving belly-nosing (P = 0.03). Aggression did not differ for day or treatment. Initiating play was affected by treatment (P = 0.05), such that lairage pigs initiated more play than the continuously transported pigs. However, no differences were seen in receipt of play behavior. Pigs that were to be transported continuously walked less pre-transport, but walked more post-transport (treatment × day interaction; P = 0.02) and drank less pre-transport, however those pigs drank more on all days post-transport than the lairage group (treatment × day interaction; P = 0.001). This study indicates that extended transport without lairage alters swine behavioral time budgets and the addition of a mid-journey rest period may have positive implications on the welfare of neonatal pigs by creating less need to drink and therefore walk immediately after transport, allowing more rest time. Therefore, a rest-stop, at a sanatized facility with access to feed and water, could benefit pigs during their recovery period when transported for 16 hours.

Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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