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Effect of long transport and environmental conditions on behaviour and blood parameters of postweaned piglets with different reactivity to backtest

Magnani, Diego, Cafazzo, Simona, Calà, Pietro, Razzuoli, Elisabetta, Amadori, Massimo, Bernardini, Daniele, Gerardi, Gabriele, Costa, Leonardo Nanni
Livestock science 2014 v.162 pp. 201-208
air temperature, blood composition, blood sampling, body weight, environmental factors, glucose, piglets, transportation, urea, weather
In order to evaluate the effect of long transport on weaned piglets transported under warm weather conditions, 144 piglets, previously submitted to a backtest during nursing, were monitored during 4 journeys, each lasting 14h, carried out from May to September 2009. Into the truck, piglets were allocated in 8 pens on the basis of backtest classification identified as High Resisting (HR), Low resisting (LR), Mixed (M) and Mixed at Loading (MAL). During transport, truck air temperature, skin temperatures and postural and behavioural occurrences were recorded. Prior to and after transportation, blood samples and body weight were also recorded. Piglets lost 5% of their body weight. Environmental conditions affected slightly the behaviour of piglets which were more active during the first 4h of transport. The behaviour of the piglets was significantly influenced by the type of pen since some differences in biting and exploratory behaviours were found in M pens. Conversely, no differences were found between HR and LR pens. Significant variations with respect to the baseline levels were found only for glucose which decreased and for urea which increased after journey as a result of the prolonged fasting.In general, the results suggest that long-lasting journeys did not have consistent effects on physiological and behavioural parameters of early-weaned piglets while grouping and mixing procedures may affect how they cope with transport.