: Use of Biologically Relevant Enrichment to Improve Nursery-Aged Pig Weaning Transition

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Geary, Alexandria
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Johnson, Anna
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Animal Science

The Department of Animal Science originally concerned itself with teaching the selection, breeding, feeding and care of livestock. Today it continues this study of the symbiotic relationship between animals and humans, with practical focuses on agribusiness, science, and animal management.

The Department of Animal Husbandry was established in 1898. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Animal Science in 1962. The Department of Poultry Science was merged into the department in 1971.

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The Honors project is potentially the most valuable component of an Honors education. Typically Honors students choose to do their projects in their area of study, but some will pick a topic of interest unrelated to their major.

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Piglets are abruptly weaned and may struggle to eat, which can impair performance. The project objectives were to determine if biologically relevant environmental enrichment (EE) placed on the feeder maintained novelty and affected performance for the weaned pig over the first seven days. 30 mixed sex piglets, aged 19-24 days, were sorted into 3 pens. The EE device was a rope with two biscuits on the end. Each pen was randomly allocated 1 of 3 treatments: positive control (POS, plain biscuits), semiochemical (SC, biscuits dipped in semiochemical), and jam (JAM, biscuits dipped in jam). Biscuits were replaced daily. Enrichment interactions were collected 1 and 12 hours after EE replacement, using 10 second scan sampling for 1 hour. Pig body weight was collected at weaning and at 7 days placed to determine average daily gain (ADG). Data was analyzed descriptively. Average enrichment interaction frequency, regardless of day, was POS 204, SC 195, and JAM 158. These interactions were higher 1 compared to 12 hours after EE replacement. Novelty was maintained. ADG was similar over treatments; POS 0.23 kg/d, JAM 0.19 kg/d, SC 0.23 kg/d. In conclusion, pigs assigned the POS treatment were the most effective and ADG was not negatively impacted.
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