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Gradual weaning during an extended lactation period improves performance and behavior of pigs raised in a multi-suckling system

By S. E. van Nieuwamerongen, N. M. Soede, C. M. C. van der Peet-Schwering, B. Kemp, J. E. Bolhuis

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Abstract

We studied effects of two weaning procedures on the development of pigs raised in a multi-suckling (MS) system with five sows and their litters. One MS group was subjected to a gradual weaning treatment during a lactation period of 9 wk, which included forced intermittent-suckling (IS) for 10h/d during the fifth wk of lactation, followed by a 4-wk period in which sows could voluntarily get away from their piglets (IS9 treatment). The other MS group was weaned abruptly at 4 wk of age and was subsequently housed in a nursery (A4 treatment). At 9 wk of age, pigs from both treatments were relocated to a finishing unit, where they were housed in a group of max. 35 pigs per treatment. Five consecutive batches of 10 sows and their litters were studied. Weaning had a more profound impact for the A4 pigs than IS and sow-initiated separation did for the IS9 pigs, demonstrated by a lower weight gain between d 27–33 (0.90±0.08 vs. 1.51±0.06kg/pig, F1,4=25.23, p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 194
Pages 24-35
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.05.005
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Tags
  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Escape responses
  3. Pigs
  4. suckling
  5. weaning