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Open AccessArticle

Effects of Different Farrowing and Rearing Systems on Post-Weaning Stress in Piglets

1
Department of Animal Sciences, Livestock Systems, Georg-August-University, Albrecht-Thaer-Weg 3, 37075 Göttingen, Germany
2
Clinic for Swine, Small Ruminants and Forensic Medicine, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Bischofsholer Damm 15, 30173 Hannover, Germany
3
Faculty of Science and Technology, Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Piazza Università 5, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
4
Chamber of Agriculture of Schleswig-Holstein, Gutshof 1, 24327 Blekendorf, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Agriculture 2020, 10(6), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/agriculture10060230
Received: 19 May 2020 / Revised: 12 June 2020 / Accepted: 13 June 2020 / Published: 15 June 2020
This study aimed to investigate how farrowing and rearing systems affect skin lesions, serum cortisol, and aggressive behavior as indicators for weaning stress of piglets. Between May 2016 and March 2018, in total 3144 weaning piglets from three different farrowing systems were examined: farrowing crates (FC), single-housing free-farrowing pens (FF), and group-housing of lactating sows and litters (GH). After weaning and regrouping, piglets were relocated to conventional rearing pens (conv; 5.7 m2) or to wean-to-finish pens (w-f; 12.4 m2). Skin lesions were scored 24 h after weaning. Blood samples were taken one week before and 24 h after weaning to analyze the individual difference in serum cortisol. Behavior was observed for 24 h after relocation. Animals raised in FC and FF had significantly more skin lesions than that of GH animals. Piglets born in GH showed lower cortisol differences and fought less and for shorter periods compared to FC and FF piglets. Piglets weaned to w-f pens showed greater cortisol changes and fought significantly longer than piglets in conv pens. Group housing during the suckling period reduced weaning stress for piglets in terms of skin lesions, serum cortisol, and aggressive behavior. Greater space allowance (w-f vs. conv) was not beneficial with regard to the investigated parameters. View Full-Text
Keywords: lactation housing; skin lesions; serum cortisol; early socialization; regrouping; agonistic interactions lactation housing; skin lesions; serum cortisol; early socialization; regrouping; agonistic interactions
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Lange, A.; Gentz, M.; Hahne, M.; Lambertz, C.; Gauly, M.; Burfeind, O.; Traulsen, I. Effects of Different Farrowing and Rearing Systems on Post-Weaning Stress in Piglets. Agriculture 2020, 10, 230.

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