Tail-biting, ear-biting, belly rubbing are considered behavioral vices when pigs are confined in one pen. Constant outbreaks of these vices reduce growth performance of the pigs. Oftentimes, the predisposing factors are: poor ventilation; improper nutrition; overcrowding; and boredom. Thus, it is necessary to give close attention to the environment, stocking rate, feed and water space, and the removal of aggressive pigs to control the problem.
How to reduce stress during transport of weaners
- Add vitamins and electrolytes in the drinking water two to three days before transport. Anti-stress formulation can also be given.
- It is best to transport weaners during the coldest part of the day. The vehicle should be well ventilated and the weaners should be protected against direct sunlight. Do not wet weaners during transport because they might get sick.
- Handle the piglets gently and allow them to walk into the transport vehicle. Straw bedding in the truck is needed to keep them warm and to protect their legs and feet.
- If vehicle is too long, separations are necessary to prevent crushing or overcrowding to one end. Do not mix weaners with bigger pigs.
- Partially feed the weaners before transport. However, water should be available during the transport. If the trip will take several days, feeds and water should be given on a restricted amount.
For newly arrived weaners
Newly purchased weaners are subject to: fatigue, hunger, thirst, temperature changes, ration changes, new surrounding, and social problem (culture shock).
- Clean and disinfect pens prior to arrival. This allows the pig to gradually become accustomed to the bacteria in the new environment.
- Maintain the environment temperature at 21 °C several days after arrival.
- Provide enough space for the pigs and group them accordingly. Separate weak piglets.
- Feed and watering devices should be accessible
- Restrict feeding for the first few days upon arrival. Over consumption may cause digestive upsets.
- Shifting of feeds from starter to grower should be done gradually. Below is an example of a shifting scheme.
Day | Starter Feed | Grower Feed
- 1 & 2 | 75% | 25%
- 3 & 4 | 50% | 50%
- 5 & 6 | 25% | 75%
- 7 | 0 | 100%
source: DA-ITCPH, Maraway, Lipa City