Differences in Nursery Pigs’ Behavior on the Day of Vaccination
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Swine industry feed suppliers are continually striving to develop techniques and tools to reduce the additive stressors imposed on the weanling piglet, to increase advantageous behaviors (feeding and drinking) and to reduce aggressive interactions. One product on the market designed to ease the transition from a liquid diet (sow's milk) to a dry ration is a gel-based feed supplement that was incorporated in this trial as a means to positively affect feeding and drinking behaviors. The objectives of this study were to determine if there were differences in the nursery pigs’ behavior on the day of vaccination when provided a gel supplement. A total of 29 d crossbred pigs (5.94 kg) were housed in Double L® confinement nursery buildings. Four treatments were compared. No vaccine and no gel (control n = 4) defined as unvaccinated and without supplemental gel at days 8 to 10. No vaccine and gel (n = 4) defined as pigs that were provided supplemental gel at days 8 to 10 without vaccination. Vaccinated and no gel (n = 4) defined as pigs that were vaccinated but did not receive supplemental gel at days 8 to 10. Vaccinated and gel (n = 4) defined as pigs that were provided supplemental gel at days 8 to 10 and were vaccinated. The group of four pigs housed together in a pen was considered the experimental unit for data analysis. Definitions for the behaviors and postures recorded and summarized for the trial included the following: Active was defined as standing, this included any upright postures. Inactive posture was defined as sitting or lying postures (both lateral and sternal). Time at drinker was defined as when an individual pig’s mouth was around the water nipple. Time at feeding stations was defined as the time when the individual pig’s head was inside the creep (that contained gel) or the three hole feeder (dry pelleted feed). Nursery aged pigs were less active (P < 0.05; Figure 1) and spent less time (P < 0.05; Figure 2) at the feeding stations 1- h after receiving Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae vaccination, indicating a short term behavioral response to this stressor. These behavioral alterations continued for approximately 6- h (or 5:00 PM the vaccination day afternoon). After this time, all nursery pigs regardless of treatment engaged in the same behavioral repertoire. However, the behavioral repertoire of these nursery pigs were not different over the 3-d trial (previously published worked by Johnson et al., 2008) suggesting that the effects of this vaccination stressor and product were not long lasting.