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Effect of group composition and pen size on behaviour, productivity and immune response of growing pigs

By A. S. Moore, H. W. Gonyou, J. M. Stookey, D. G. McLaren

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Levels of aggression, injuries, activity, performance and immune response were determined in 288 growing pigs in a 2 x 2 factorial experiment; the factors being group composition and pen size. Pigs were classified as small (SM) when allotted and then reclassified as medium (MED), large (LG) and extra-large (XL) at 3 week intervals. Static groups were initiated by 12 SM pigs and they remained together for 12 weeks. Dynamic groups consisted of 3 pigs of each size class. Pigs were introduced into dynamic groups as SM pigs and remained there for 12 weeks, progressing up through the size classes. At 3 week intervals the 3 XL pigs in dynamic groups were removed and replaced with 3 SM pigs. Pen sizes were 9.5 msuperscript 2 and 7.6 msuperscript 2. Pigs were weighed weekly and gains determined. Aggression during the 4 h period after regrouping was determined by 10 min of continuous observations at 20 min intervals. Ear and shoulder injuries were evaluated at 6 h, 24 h, 48 h and 144 h post-regrouping and each week thereafter. Intradermal response to phytohaemagglutinin (PHA) as an indicator of in vivo cellular immunity was assessed in dynamic, static and control pigs (remaining in nursery pens and not regrouped), as was plasma cortisol concentration and neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio (N/L). PHA was injected 1 h prior to regrouping and the response was measured at 8 h and 24 h post-regrouping. Weight gains and activity budgets over the entire trial did not differ between treatments. However, SM and MED pigs in static groups and XL pigs in dynamic groups gained more than their contemporaries in the other grouping treatment. A greater proportion of pigs in dynamic groups (13.5

Date 1994
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 40
Issue 1
Pages 13-30
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Abnormal behavior
  2. Aggression
  3. Aggressive behavior
  4. Animal behavior
  5. Animal diseases
  6. Animal housing
  7. Animal rights
  8. Animal welfare
  9. Deviant behavior
  10. Growth
  11. Immune response
  12. Immunity reactions
  13. Immunological reactions
  14. Mammals
  15. Physical environment
  16. Stress
  17. Swine