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The influence of a magnesium rich marine supplement on behaviour, salivary cortisol levels, and skin lesions in growing pigs exposed to acute stressors

By Keelin O’Driscoll, Dayane Lemos Teixeira, Denise O’Gorman, Stephen Taylor, Laura Ann Boyle

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Abstract

Pigs in intensive production systems typically experience multiple acute stressors which can have a negative impact on their welfare. This study investigated whether a magnesium (Mg) rich marine extract (SUPPLEMENT) could reduce the negative effects of mixing and an out-of-feed event on pig welfare. At weaning (28d) 448 piglets were assigned to either control or SUPPLEMENT (0.5% of the diet) diets in single sex groups of 14. Four weeks later (day 56, c. 17kg) pigs were blocked according to weight and back-test scores. Seven piglets from each pen were mixed with 7 from another of the same sex and dietary treatment to yield the following groups: control male, SUPPLEMENT male, control female and SUPPLEMENT female (n=4 of each). At mixing, behaviour was recorded on video for 3h and the frequency and duration of aggressive behaviours, as well as the number of pigs involved in each bout of aggression was recorded. Additionally, the proportion of pigs standing or lying was recorded at 10min intervals. At 112d feed was removed for 21h. After re-introduction of the feed, pens were observed continuously for 8×2min periods and aggressive behaviour was recorded. Skin lesions of 4 focal pigs/pen were scored on the day before and after mixing and the out-of-feed event. Saliva samples were collected on day 56 and day 113 (1h before and 1, 3 and 8h after mixing/feed delivery post deprivation) and at 10:00h on day 55, day 57, day 58, day 112 and day 114 by allowing the 4 focal pigs to chew on a cotton bud for 1min. Cortisol was analysed by ELISA. At mixing, aggressive interactions between males lasted longer than between females (34:27 vs. 16:55mm:ss, s.e. 03:38; P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 145
Issue 3
Pages 92-101
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.02.005
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Lesions
  3. Magnesium
  4. Pigs
  5. Stress