Research Provides Insight into the Effects of Transport on Weaner Pigs

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Farmscape for March 26, 2021

Full Interview 7:53 Listen

Research conducted on behalf Swine Innovation Pork is providing pork producers, researchers and regulators a clearer picture of the physical and psychological effects of long versus short duration transport on newly weaned piglets. Researchers with the University of Guelph and the Prairie Swine Center in partnership with Swine Innovation Porc are comparing the effects of long duration transport, over 30 hours, to short duration transport, about 90 minutes on weaner pigs. Dr. Jennifer Brown, a Research Scientist Ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, says those pigs transported the longer distances were prone to slight dehydration while those moved the shorter distances suffered a more acute stress response but the differences were not enough to raise concerns about long distance transport.

Clip-Dr. Jennifer Brown-Prairie Swine Centre:
This information will hopefully help to define better practices for transport of nursery pigs. Thus far we have done studies during the summer months. We would very much like to do more data collection in winter months because that’s going to be more challenging for the piglets in terms of thermal regulation but it’s harder to organize data collection in the winter months. We have fewer students available to help us with data collection but that would be something going forward. Best practices is where this information will be used and improving practices, further research. We can certainly highlight other research that can be done and the information will also be helpful for regulators in determining what practices will be acceptable. I think more work needs to be done in this area. Weaner pigs are quite different from finishers and have different requirements and also the interaction with wean time. How the transport and the weaning interact is another important question that we’re just starting to figure out.

Dr. Brown says so far, the physiological measures have all been analysed and there were no major differences between the two treatments and researchers are now assessing the behavioral measures.

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