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Impact of single-sex and mixed-sex group housing of boars vaccinated against GnRF or physically castrated on body lesions, feeding behaviour and weight gain

By Tatjana Schmidt, Justin M. Calabrese, Mario Grodzycki, Marleen Paulick, Michael C. Pearce, Franziska Rau, Eberhard von Borell

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Abstract

Physical castration of male piglets is common practice in many countries for the control of boar taint. A vaccine against GnRF (Improvac®) is licensed in Europe as an alternative to this painful procedure. Vaccinated pigs are known to behave like entire males up to the second vaccination, exhibiting more aggressive behaviour towards each other, which is of welfare concern. Previous studies showed that feeding behaviour is influenced by the level of competition and therefore possibly also by agonistic interactions in pig groups. The aim of this study was to evaluate if mixed-sex or single-sex housing as well as the castration method would influence skin lesions, feeding behaviour and weight gain. A total of 160 pigs were raised in four treatment groups (in four replicates): (1) single-sex physical castrates (C, n=10 per pen), (2) single-sex vaccinates (V, n=10), (3) physical castrates (CF, n=5) housed with females (FC, n=5), and (4) vaccinates (VF, n=5) housed with females (FV, n=5). The fattening time started at 11 wks and vaccinations were applied at 12 and 23 wks of age. Data were analyzed as repeated mixed models with Tukey HSD tests. A shorter feeding duration (FDV, P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 130
Issue 1
Pages 42-52
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.11.019
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Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Castration
  3. Feeding behavior
  4. vaccination
  5. welfare