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The editors of Pig Health Today are acutely aware of the hardships facing the pork industry as it responds to plant closures, labor shortages and other challenges resulting from the pandemic.

At the same time, we recognize that maintaining herd health and biosecurity are vital to the industry’s long-term security and sustainability. We therefore will continue to report on the latest news and information to help the pork industry meet this goal. As always, we welcome your comments and editorial suggestions.

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Minimise weaning stress to maximise piglet performance

Minimising the amount of stress piglets go through can help limit health issues and growth checks associated with weaning, according to a pig health specialist.

Writing in Zoetis’ Livestock Blog, veterinarian Dr. Laura Hancox said maternal separation, change of environment, new sources of feed, handling and vaccines can all put piglets under stress.

But taking management steps to limit the stresses associated with weaning can help with piglet welfare and growth rates, ultimately driving herd productivity.

Environmental factors

The stomach of a newly weaned pig is highly sensitive to bacteria, so it is important housing is clean, disinfected and dry, Hancox says.

Keep temperatures to about 28°C (83°F) in the laying area, and if possible pre-warm the accommodation to avoid cold shocking the weaners.

Where there’s no heat source, provide suitable kennelling and lots of bedding to keep them warm.

Feeding with creep feed in the weeks before weaning is important to encourage piglets to eat when they are separated from the sow, Hancox adds. Give them the same creep feed after weaning so they are familiar with it.

“The way the feed is delivered is important too, and ideally you should provide several options of feeder type, for example a floor trough and hopper,” she adds.

“Exposing the pigs to different feeder types at this stage will engage their curiosity and assist in helping them discover the feed on offer. “

The same applies for water, with bowls and nipples giving pigs every opportunity to discover drinking points and build water intake.

Tips for handling piglets

Handling animals can lead to stress, so it’s important to handle them calmly and gently, Hancox says.

Pick weaners up by both of their back legs, quickly supporting them under the chest to take strain off the leg joints.

Most handling around weaning is related to health treatments, so it’s worth considering one-shot vaccinations to limit the amount of time pigs are handled and the number of injections they need to receive, she adds.

One-shot vaccines can also limit stress for stockmen, as they can save time and effort in physically handling animals.

Full article

Posted on January 30, 2018

tags: , ,
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  • What to do when emotions run high in a disease break

    Any way you look at it, going through a disease break on a farm is difficult. “The pigs are easy; it’s the people that make things difficult.”

  • Monitor growth restrictions to improve long-term piglet success

    Tracking signs of pre-natal growth restriction in piglets could help producers select sows that are likely to have healthier offspring with lower rates of mortality, scientists say.

  • 7 steps to increasing weaned piglet feed intake

    Adapting feeding management to piglet biology can get piglets eating within hours of weaning and avoid issues with hunger and dehydration, according to a pig nutritionist.

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