Flank or belly nosing in weaned pigs

B.E. Straw, DVM, PhD; P. Bartlett, DVM, MPH, PhD

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Objective: To examine growth rate of pigs that engaged in, or were the recipients of, flank or belly nosing.

Methods: Data was collected from 332 weaned pigs during a 6-week period after they were weaned at 16 to 18 days of age. Sixteen pens of pigs were observed for nosing activity during the first 16 days postweaning, and associated skin lesions and growth rate throughout the entire 6 weeks in the nursery were recorded.

Results: Nosing activity was not observed until 3 days postweaning and peaked in number of pigs involved and duration of activity about 1 week after weaning. Nearly half of all pigs were observed performing some flank- or belly-nosing activity. Pigs that nosed were more likely to become the smallest pigs, although initial weight did not differ between pigs that nosed and those that didn't. In this study, sexes were housed separately, and no difference between gilts and barrows was detected in amount of nosing activity, measured either by number of days observed nosing or total seconds observed nosing. However, barrows had more skin lesions caused by nosing than did gilts.

Implications: Although flank or belly nosing is esthetically annoying to animal caretakers, it did not slow the growth rate of recipients. However, there was confounding of effect, since the most rapidly growing pigs were the most attractive targets for the perpetrators. While being a recipient of belly nosing did not affect growth, being a perpetrator was strongly associated with a reduction in growth rate.

Keywords: weaning, performance, belly nosing, skin lesions

RIS citationCite as: Straw BE, Bartlett P. Flank or belly nosing in weaned pigs. J Swine Health Prod 2001;9(1):19-23.

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