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Postweaning growth and feeding behaviour in pigs: effect of heavier hybrid and weaning intact litters in farrowing pens for loose-housed sows

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Abrupt weaning of four-week-old pigs is associated with multiple stressors. Housing pigs in intact litters is a way to reduce the stress associated with moving and mixing of unfamiliar pigs. Furthermore, higher weaning weight may improve pigs’ robustness against postweaning stressors. In the present study, it was investigated whether: (1) A heavier pig hybrid, and (2) weaning intact litters in the farrowing pen for loose-housed sows could increase postweaning feeding behaviour and growth. Two sow hybrids (DanBred LY (DB) and Topigs Norsvin TN70 (TN)) and two weaning strategies (the litter stayed intact in the farrowing pen after removing the sow (STAY), or two litters were moved and mixed in conventional weaner pens (MOVE)) were compared in a 2 × 2 factorial design. In total, 57 litters from four batches were included in the study. The TN hybrid sows gave birth to heavier piglets but smaller litter sizes and had more functional teats than DB sows. At weaning, TN pigs were heavier than DB. The number of feed trough (FT) visits on the day before weaning was low in both hybrids. On the day after weaning, the number of FT visits was higher in MOVE compared to STAY, and in TN-STAY compared to DB-STAY. The average daily gain the first two days postweaning was negative in both hybrids and weaning strategies but more pronounced in DB than TN, and STAY tended to lose more weight than MOVE. Over the entire 28-day postweaning period, there was an interaction between hybrid and weaning strategy in that TN-STAY (392 g/d) had higher growth than both TN-MOVE (251 g/d) and DB-MOVE (283 g/d), whereas growth of DB-STAY (316 g/d) was intermediate. In addition, higher weaning weight was associated with a lower number of FT visits and greater weight loss the first two days postweaning but higher growth over the 28-day postweaning period. The results show that abrupt weaning at four weeks of age causes weight loss the first days postweaning despite being housedas intact litters, most likely due to low feed consumption. However, the combination of a heavier pig hybrid and housing intact litters in the farrowing pen postweaning resulted in a higher growth performance over the 28-day postweaning period. In conclusion, pigs that are heavier at weaning reach better growth performance in the longer term, despite having the largest acute postweaning growth depression and fewest FT visits on the day before and after weaning.

Antal sider12
StatusUdgivet - jan. 2023

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