Next Article in Journal
Histological and Comparative Transcriptome Analyses Provide Insights into Small Intestine Health in Diarrheal Piglets after Infection with Clostridium Perfringens Type C
Next Article in Special Issue
The Impact of Heat Load on Cattle
Previous Article in Journal
Market-Based Governance in Farm Animal Welfare—A Comparative Analysis of Public and Private Policies in Germany and France
Previous Article in Special Issue
Cow Lying Behaviour and Bedding Quality Changes during Five Weeks on a Stand-Off Pad
Open AccessCommunication

Preliminary Study: Depriving Piglets of Maternal Feces for the First Seven Days Post-Partum Changes Piglet Physiology and Performance before and after Weaning

1
Laboratory of Animal Behavior, Physiology and Welfare, Animal and Food Sciences Department, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-2141, USA
2
Department of Animal and Food Sciences, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX 79409-2141, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 268; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050268
Received: 16 April 2019 / Revised: 16 May 2019 / Accepted: 21 May 2019 / Published: 23 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Impact of Environment and Stressors on Animal Welfare)
Coprophagy is the behavior of eating feces. This behavior has been reported in many animals, including pigs. We aimed to assess how coprophagy affects piglet behavior, physiology, and performance by depriving piglets of maternal feces for the first 7 d post-partum. Eight litters were randomly assigned either to have access to maternal feces (control) or to be deprived of maternal feces for the first 7 d post-partum. Piglet behavior was observed for 24 h at 7 d of age and two piglets from each litter (male and female) were bled for hematological analysis at 0, 7, and 21 d of age. Piglets feed intake and weight gain were measured until 123 d post-weaning. No behavioral differences were observed between treatments. Overall, control piglets had 25% higher white blood cell counts and higher feed intake and weight gain than piglets deprived of maternal feces. At 123 d post-weaning, control piglets were 9.6 kg heavier than piglets deprived of maternal feces. In conclusion, piglets with access to maternal feces early in life exhibited better performance. The mechanisms by which coprophagy improves piglet performance needs to be elucidated in further studies, but could include effects of the nutrition, microbiome or semiochemical exposure.
Coprophagy has been described in piglets although its importance has not been fully assessed. The aim of this study was to evaluate how deprivation of maternal feces influenced piglet physiology, behavior, and performance. Eight litters were randomly assigned to one of two treatments. Control (CON) litters had access to maternal feces while deprived (DEP) litters were deprived of maternal feces for the first 7 d post-partum. Piglet behavior was quantified for 24 h at 7 d of age. Blood samples were collected from one male and female from each litter at 0, 7, and 21 d for hematological analyses, and post-weaning performance was assessed until 123 d post-weaning. No treatment effects were observed on piglet behavior. DEP piglets had 25% lower leukocyte counts (p < 0.01). Relative to DEP litters, CON litters had increased post-weaning feed intake (0.998 vs 0.901 kg/d; p = 0.02) and weight gain (0.536 vs 0.483 kg/d; p < 0.01). At 123 d post-weaning, CON pigs were 9.3 ± 2.3 kg heavier than treatment pigs (p < 0.01). These results suggest that access to maternal feces improves immunocompetence and growth performance. Further studies are needed to explore the physiological mechanisms through which maternal feces improve growth performance, including nutritional and microbial factors, or the presence of maternal semiochemicals. View Full-Text
Keywords: coprophagy; behavior; pig performance coprophagy; behavior; pig performance
Show Figures

Figure 1

MDPI and ACS Style

Aviles-Rosa, E.O.; Rakhshandeh, A.; McGlone, J.J. Preliminary Study: Depriving Piglets of Maternal Feces for the First Seven Days Post-Partum Changes Piglet Physiology and Performance before and after Weaning. Animals 2019, 9, 268.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats
Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Article Access Map by Country/Region

1
Back to TopTop