Effects of weaning age on postweaning belly-nosing behavior and umbilical lesions in a multi-site production system
Rodger G. Main, DVM, PhD; Steve S. Dritz, DVM, PhD; Mike D. Tokach, PhD; Robert D. Goodband, PhD; Jim L. Nelssen, PhD; Thomas M. Loughin, PhD
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Objective: To determine the effects of weaning age on postweaning belly-nosing behavior and umbilical lesions in a commercial multi-site production system environment.
Materials and methods: This study was conducted as a randomized complete block design. Treatments were weaning at 12, 15, 18, and 21 days of age (N = 2272 pigs). Each block was an off-site nursery, with four replicates (pens) of each treatment in each of four blocks. All pigs in a block were weaned from a 7300-head sow farm on the same day (Day 0). Each pen was observed for 15 minutes on Days 7, 14, and 21. Pigs demonstrating sustained belly-nosing behavior (>= 10 seconds) were recorded. After the observations on Day 21, the umbilical region of each pig was examined and scored for lesions associated with belly nosing. A repeated measures mixed model with linear and quadratic contrasts was used to test the effects of weaning age on belly-nosing prevalence, percentage of pigs classified as "nosers," umbilical lesion scores, and percentage of pigs with umbilical lesions at Day 21, with pen the experimental unit in all analyses.
Results: Belly-nosing behavior and umbilical lesions were less frequent (quadratic, P < .05) as weaning age increased. Although the incidence of belly-nosing behavior gradually decreased as weaning age increased to 21 days, nosing activity and umbilical lesion scores nearly doubled as weaning age decreased from 15 to 12 days of age.
Implications: Weaning pigs at less than 15 days of age significantly increases belly-nosing behavior and associated umbilical lesions.
Keywords: weaning age, belly nosing, behavior, segregated early weaning, SEW
Cite as: Main RG, Dritz SS, Tokach MD, et al. Effects of weaning age on postweaning belly-nosing behavior and umbilical lesions in a multi-site production system. J Swine Health Prod 2005;13(5):259-264.
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