Influence of weaning site, weaning age, and viral exposure on production performance in early-weaned nursery pigs

Thomas J. Fangman, DVM, MS; Roderick C. Tubbs, DVM, MS; Kelly Henningsen-Dyer, MBA

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Purpose: To determine the effects of nursery site location and weaning age on feed intake, average daily gain, and feed efficiency in 888 nursery pigs.

Methods: Pigs on a 5000-sow production system with two sow sites and one offsite nursery location were assigned to one of two weaning-age groups: a younger weaning-age group (weaning at 8-13 days [3.33 kg; 7.33 lb]) or an older weaning-age group (weaning at 17-21 days [4.92 kg; 10.83 lb]). The pigs in the onsite locations were weaned into nursery facilities adjoining the farrowing sites. The pigs in the offsite location originated from both farrowing sites and were allocated by age block to two identical but separate offsite nursery buildings. Feed intake, average daily gain, and feed efficiency were measured. To monitor health status, nasal swabs and serum samples were obtained, and incidence of diarrhea was measured.

Results: Serological evidence via serum neutralization (SN) was detected for TGEV. Immunofluorescent-antibody titers (IFA) for PRRSV were also positive. The west farrowing site was diagnosed with TGEV 30 days prior to the start of this trial. Serological evidence generally revealed decreasing antibody titer to TGEV and PRRSV. The serology of tested pigs that remained onsite at the east farrowing site demonstrated a two- to fourfold rise of PRRSV titers in four of six pigs tested 42 days after weaning. Pigs moved offsite demonstrated decreasing titers to both TGEV and PRRSV. Both average daily gain and feed efficiency were improved in later weaning-age group pigs compared to early weaning-age group pigs.

Implications: Weight at weaning may be more of a factor than age at weaning (if <21 days) in terms of subsequent growth performance. Site separation of pigs did not eliminate transmission of selected infectious agents as pigs at all sites were culture positive for Streptococcus suis and toxigenic Pasteurella multocida. Milk antibodies may prevent viral colonization and reduce the spread of viral disease when pigs are moved away from the sow herd.

Keywords: segregated early weaning (SEW), weaning age, growth performance

RIS citationCite as: Fangman TJ, Tubbs RC, Henningsen-Dyer K. Influence of weaning site, weaning age, and viral exposure on production performance in early-weaned nursery pigs. J Swine Health Prod 1996;4(5):223-229.

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