• Cross-Fostering Implications for Pig Mortality, Welfare and Performance

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 14/S/832 (Frontiers, 2018-06-06)
      This study aimed to (1) identify cross-fostering (CF) practices employed on a commercial farm; (2) characterize CF pigs according to litter of origin traits, and (3) investigate the implications of CF practices on pig mortality, performance and welfare. This was an observational study whereby pigs were managed according to normal farming practice. Pigs (n = 1,016) born within 1 week were classified as non-CF (NCF); CF during the first (CFW1) and second or third (CFW2+) weeks of lactation. Pigs were individually weighed and inspected for the presence of tail (TL), ear (EL) and body lesions (BL) at weaning (7.03 ± 1.61 kg) and at the end of the first (12.9 ± 3.03 kg) and second (31.9 ± 5.50 kg) weaner and grower (66.3 ± 9.12 kg) stages. Mortality was recorded through to slaughter (c. 115 kg). At slaughter, TL were scored and carcass characteristics, presence of pleurisy, enzootic pneumonia, pericarditis and heart condemnations were recorded. 40.8% of CF pigs were CFW1; ANOVA tests revealed these were born to sows with a higher number of piglets born alive than NCF pigs (14.6 ± 2.61 and 12.8 ± 2.68, respectively). The remaining 59.2% of CF pigs were CFW2+; these were, on average, 0.14 kg lighter at birth than NCF pigs. Therefore, a nested case control design was retrospectively applied whereby pigs with complete records to slaughter, were matched for these variables to investigate associations between CF weeks, welfare and performance traits. Growth performance did not differ between CF week (P > 0.05); however, CFW2+ carcasses were 4.9 kg lighter (P < 0.05) compared with NCF and CFW1 pigs. EL were more likely in CFW1 compared to NCF and CFW2+ (P < 0.05) pigs. To investigate the effect of CF week on the risk of mortality, all 1,016 pigs were used. CF pigs were at higher risk of death (P < 0.05) with similar odds in CFW1 and CFW2+ pigs compared with NCF pigs, although other underlying factors could contribute to this result. Performance and health traits were similar between CF weeks. Early cross-fostering appeared to influence the presence of ear lesions but the mechanism is likely indirect and difficult to explain.
    • Cross-Fostering Implications for Pig Mortality, Welfare and Performance

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 14/S/832 (Frontiers, 2018-06-06)
      This study aimed to (1) identify cross-fostering (CF) practices employed on a commercial farm; (2) characterize CF pigs according to litter of origin traits, and (3) investigate the implications of CF practices on pig mortality, performance and welfare. This was an observational study whereby pigs were managed according to normal farming practice. Pigs (n = 1,016) born within 1 week were classified as non-CF (NCF); CF during the first (CFW1) and second or third (CFW2+) weeks of lactation. Pigs were individually weighed and inspected for the presence of tail (TL), ear (EL) and body lesions (BL) at weaning (7.03 ± 1.61 kg) and at the end of the first (12.9 ± 3.03 kg) and second (31.9 ± 5.50 kg) weaner and grower (66.3 ± 9.12 kg) stages. Mortality was recorded through to slaughter (c. 115 kg). At slaughter, TL were scored and carcass characteristics, presence of pleurisy, enzootic pneumonia, pericarditis and heart condemnations were recorded. 40.8% of CF pigs were CFW1; ANOVA tests revealed these were born to sows with a higher number of piglets born alive than NCF pigs (14.6 ± 2.61 and 12.8 ± 2.68, respectively). The remaining 59.2% of CF pigs were CFW2+; these were, on average, 0.14 kg lighter at birth than NCF pigs. Therefore, a nested case control design was retrospectively applied whereby pigs with complete records to slaughter, were matched for these variables to investigate associations between CF weeks, welfare and performance traits. Growth performance did not differ between CF week (P > 0.05); however, CFW2+ carcasses were 4.9 kg lighter (P < 0.05) compared with NCF and CFW1 pigs. EL were more likely in CFW1 compared to NCF and CFW2+ (P < 0.05) pigs. To investigate the effect of CF week on the risk of mortality, all 1,016 pigs were used. CF pigs were at higher risk of death (P < 0.05) with similar odds in CFW1 and CFW2+ pigs compared with NCF pigs, although other underlying factors could contribute to this result. Performance and health traits were similar between CF weeks. Early cross-fostering appeared to influence the presence of ear lesions but the mechanism is likely indirect and difficult to explain.
    • Do weaner pigs need in-feed antibiotics to ensure good health and welfare?

      Diana, Alessia; Manzanilla, Edgar G; Calderon Diaz, Julia; Leonard, Nola; Boyle, Laura (PLOS, 2017-10-05)
      Antibiotics (AB) are used in intensive pig production systems to control infectious diseases and they are suspected to be a major source of antibiotic resistance. Following the ban on AB use as growth promoters in the EU, their prophylactic use in-feed is now under review. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of removing prophylactic in-feed AB on pig health and welfare indicators. Every Monday for six weeks, a subset of 70 pigs were weaned, tagged and sorted into two groups of 35 pigs according to weight (9.2 ± 0.6 kg). AB were removed from the diet of one group (NO, n=6) and maintained in the other group (AB, n=6) for nine weeks. Ten focal pigs were chosen per group. After c. five weeks each group was split into two pens of c.17 pigs for the following 4 weeks. Data were recorded weekly. Skin, tail, ear, flank and limb lesions of focal pigs were scored according to severity. The number of animals per group affected by health deviations was also recorded. The number of fights and harmful behaviours (ear, tail bites) per group was counted during 3×5min observations once per week. Data were analysed using mixed model equations and binomial logistic regression. At group level, AB pigs were more likely to have tail (OR=1.70; P=0.05) but less likely to have ear lesions than NO pigs (OR=0.46; P<0.05). The number of ear bites (21.4±2.15 vs. 17.3±1.61; P<0.05) and fights (6.91±0.91 vs. 5.58±0.72; P=0.09) was higher in AB than in NO pigs. There was no effect of treatment on health deviations and the frequency of these was low. Removing AB from the feed of weaner pigs had minimal effects on health and welfare indicators.
    • Dynamic space utilization for lame and non-lame gestating sows estimated by the lying-standing sequence

      Mumm, Jared M.; Calderon Diaz, Julia; Stock, Joseph D.; Johnson, Anna K.; Dekkers, Jack C.M.; Ramirez, Alejandro; Azarpajouh, Samaneh; Stalder, Kenneth J.; National Pork Board; Iowa Farm Bureau Federation; et al. (Elsevier, 2019-02-25)
      The objective of this study was to estimate the dynamic space utilization for lame and non-lame sows using their lying-standing postural sequence profile. Eighty-five sows (parity 0.9 ± 1.14; range 0 to 4) were used. Sows were moved to a pen on 30, 60 and 90 days of gestation and a ceiling mounted camera was installed above the pen to record one lying-standing event per sow. Observations ceased when the sow lied and stood, or 2.5 h elapsed from recording commencement. Additionally, each sow was evaluated for walking lameness while moving from their gestation stall to the pen. Still frames were captured from the sows’ lying and standing sequences and were combined into a single image and measured by counting pixels from contouring the sows’ body (CONTOUR), overlaying a grid on the sow image and counting any square including any part of the sow (FULL-GRID) and only counting any square that was half full or more (HALF-GRID). The space utilized while turning around was calculated by measuring the sows’ length from snout to the base of the tail and using that length as the diameter of a circle (D-PIVOT), or as the radius of a circle (R-PIVOT). Parity was re-classified as 0, 1, and 2+. There were no observed differences in the dynamic space utilized to lie, stand or turn around between lame and non-lame sows (P > 0.05). On average, sows used 1.2 ± 0.47 m2 to lie and 1.3 ± 0.46 m2 to stand. There was no difference between the CONTOUR and HALF-GRID methods (P > 0.05); however, using the FULL-GRID sows required 0.3 m2 more floor area to lie and stand compared with the other measuring methods (P < 0.05). Space used to turn around differed between measuring method (P < 0.05). Sows required 1.9 ± 0.18 m2 for D-PIVOT and 7.3 ± 0.18 m2 for R-PIVOT to turn around. Space utilized to lie-down and stand-up increased as gestation progressed (P < 0.05). Under the conditions of this study, lameness did not influence dynamic space utilization; however, lameness recorded was relatively mild and might not have been sufficiently severe to significantly affect the results. These results could be important in decision-making process for housing specifications regarding US sow gestation housing.
    • Ear, tail and skin lesions vary according to different production flows in a farrow-to-finish pig farm

      Diana, Alessia; Boyle, Laura; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Leonard, Finola Catherine; Calderon Diaz, Julia; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; 14/S/832 (Biomed Central, 2019-07-15)
      Background: Pig performance and risk of disease are associated with production flow. Given the link between health and welfare, it is likely that animal welfare indicators are also associated with production flow. This study investigated the association between production flow and tail, ear and skin lesions on a farm with a purported ‘all-in/all-out’ policy. This was an observational study whereby pigs were managed according to routine farm practice. A total of 1,016 pigs born within 1 week from the same batch were followed through the production stages and the presence or absence of welfare indicators was recorded at 4, 7, 9, 12, 16 and 24 weeks of age. Three production flows were retrospectively identified: flow 1 = ‘normal’ pigs that advanced through the production stages together ‘on time’, flow 2 = pigs delayed from advancing from the 1st to the 2nd nursery stage by 1 week and flow 3 = pigs delayed from advancing through the production stages by > 1 week. A nested case control design was applied by matching pigs by sow parity, number of born alive and birth weight. Results: The presence of ear lesions was 4.5 less likely in pigs in flow 2 and 2.9 times less likely in pigs in flow 3 (P < 0.001) compared to pigs in flow 1. Pigs in flow 3 were 2.2 more likely to have tail and 1.6 times more likely to have ear lesions (P < 0.001) compared to pigs in flow 2. Pigs in flow 2 were less likely to have tail lesions compared with pigs in flow 1 (P < 0.05). Differences between production flows for the risk of skin lesions varied according to age (P < 0.05). Conclusion: All production flows were associated with a high risk of lesions which raises concerns for pig welfare. However, risks for ear, tail and skin lesions varied according to each production flow likely due to the specific management practices inherent to each flow. Results from this study could be used to modify existing management practices, thus leading to improvements in animal welfare and possibly performance in intensive pig systems.
    • Early life indicators predict mortality, illness, reduced welfare and carcass characteristics in finisher pigs

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Boyle, Laura; Diana, Alessia; Leonard, Finola C.; Moriarty, John; McElroy, Máire C.; McGettrick, Shane; Kelliher, Denis; García Manzanilla, Edgar; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; et al. (Elsevier, 2017-07-30)
      The objective of this study was to investigate associations between early life indicators, lactation management factors and subsequent mortality, health, welfare and carcass traits of offspring. A total of 1016 pigs from a batch born during one week were used. During lactation, number of liveborn piglets, stillborn and mummies, sow parity, number of times cross-fostered, weaning age, birth and weaning body weight (BW) were collected. Mortality was recorded throughout the offspring production cycle. Prior to slaughter, pigs were scored for lameness (1 = non-lame to 3 = severely lame). At slaughter, tail lesions were scored (0 = no lesion to 4 = severe lesion) and cold carcass weight (CCW), lean meat%, presence of pericarditis and heart condemnations were recorded. Additionally, lungs were scored for pleurisy (0 = no lesions to 4 = severely extended lesions) and enzootic pneumonia (EP) like lesions. There was an increased risk of lameness prior to slaughter for pigs born to first parity sows (P < 0.05) compared with pigs born to older sows. Sow parity was a source of variation for cold carcass weight (P < 0.05) and lean meat% (P < 0.05). Pigs born in litters with more liveborn pigs were at greater risk of death and to be lame prior to slaughter (P < 0.05). Pigs that were cross-fostered once were 11.69 times, and those that were cross-fostered ≥2 times were 7.28, times more likely to die compared with pigs that were not cross-fostered (P < 0.05). Further, pigs that were cross-fostered once were at greater risk of pericarditis and heart condemnations compared with pigs that were not cross-fostered (P < 0.05). Pigs with a birth BW of <0.95 kg were at higher mortality risk throughout the production cycle. There was an increased risk of lameness, pleurisy, pericarditis and heart condemnations (P < 0.05) for pigs with lower weaning weights. Additionally, heavier pigs at weaning also had higher carcass weights (P < 0.05). There was an increased risk of lameness for pigs weaned at a younger age (P < 0.05). Males were 2.27 times less likely to receive a score of zero for tail biting compared with female pigs. Results from this study highlight the complex relationship between management, performance and disease in pigs. They confirm that special attention should be given to lighter weight pigs and pigs born to first parity sows and that cross-fostering should be minimised.
    • Effect of housing on rubber slat mats during pregnancy on the behaviour and welfare of sows in farrowing crates

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Boyle, Laura; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme; Enterprise Ireland (Teagasc (Agriculture and Food Development Authority), Ireland, 2014)
      The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of flooring type during gestation, lameness and limb lesion scores on welfare and behaviour of sows in farrowing crates. Sixty sows group-housed during gestation in pens with solid concrete floored feeding stalls and a concrete, fully slatted group area either uncovered (CON; n = 30) or covered with 10 mm thick rubber slat mats (RUB; n = 30) were transferred to the farrowing crate at 110d of gestation (-5d). Lameness was scored on -5d and at weaning (28 d postfarrowing). Limb lesions were scored on -5d, 24 h later (-4d), 3 to 5 days post farrowing and at weaning (i.e., day 28 post farrowing). Sows were video recorded for 24 h on -5d, after the last piglet was born (FARROW) and prior to weaning. Videos were sampled every 10 min and an index of the proportion of time spent in different postures (standing [S], ventral [VL] and lateral lying [LL] and total lying) and number of postural changes was calculated. Median scores were calculated for limb lesions and classified as ≤ median or > median. Postural data were tested for normality and analysed using mixed model equations methodology. Flooring during gestation did not affect any of the variables recorded in this study. However, RUB sows tended to make more postural changes than CON sows (P = 0.10). Sows with swelling scores > median spent more time LL (68.9 vs. 63.1 ± 2.19%; P < 0.05) and less time VL (19.9 vs. 25.8 ± 2.27%; P < 0.05) than sows with swelling scores ≤ median. Time spent S and VL decreased and LL increased at FARROW compared to -5d and prior to weaning (P < 0.01). We found no effect of flooring type during gestation on welfare and behaviour in the farrowing crate. Factors such as limb lesions and adaptation to confinement (i.e., time spent inside the farrowing crate) appeared to have a greater influence on sow welfare and behaviour in farrowing crates than the flooring on which they were housed during gestation.
    • Effects of gestation housing system and floor type during lactation on locomotory ability; body, limb, and claw lesions; and lying-down behavior of lactating sows

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Fahey, A. G.; Boyle, Laura A; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2014-04-01)
      This study evaluated the influence of housing system during gestation and floor type during lactation on the welfare and lying-down behavior of lactating sows. Multiparous sows (n = 85) were housed either in individual gestation stalls (n = 42) or loose (n = 43) in a single dynamic group with 2 electronic sow feeders moved to farrowing crates on either slatted steel (n = 48) or cast iron (n = 37) flooring. Lameness (0 = normal to 5 = severely lame) was scored on transfer to the farrowing crate (-5 d). Limb and body lesions were recorded on -5 d, 24 h after entering the farrowing crate (-4 d), 10-d postpartum, and before weaning. Claw lesions were recorded on -5 d and before weaning, whereas all behavioral observations were made on -5, -4, and 10 d. Median (Me) scores were calculated for claw, body, and limb lesions and classified as either less than or equal to the Me or greater than the Me lesion scores. Sows were classified as nonlame (£ 1) or lame (³ 2). Loose-housed sows had an increased (P < 0.01) risk of lameness; a reduced (P < 0.05) risk for claw lesions, particularly white line damage, horizontal wall cracks, and dewclaw injuries; and a reduced (P < 0.05) risk for calluses and bursitis on the limbs compared to stall-housed sows. Sows housed on cast iron floors during lactation had a reduced (P < 0.01) risk for heel overgrowth and erosion and heel-sole cracks compared with sows on slatted steel floors. There was no (P > 0.05) association between flooring type during lactation and body lesion score. On -4 d, loose-housed sows had a shorter latency to lie down (P < 0.01), spent more time inactive (P < 0.05), and shifted weight between the limbs more often (P = 0.05) while standing compared with stall-housed sows. Lame sows had a shorter (P < 0.01) latency to lie down compared to nonlame sows on -5 and -4 d. In conclusion, there was an increased risk of lameness in sows housed loose compared to those housed in gestation stalls on transfer to the farrowing crate. Claw health deteriorated in the farrowing crate regardless of gestation housing or floor type but the deterioration in claw health was increased on slatted steel compared to on cast iron
    • Longitudinal study of the effect of rubber slat mats on locomotory ability, body, limb and claw lesions, and dirtiness of group housed sows

      Calderon Diaz, Julia; Fahey, A. G.; KilBride, A. L.; Green, L. E.; Boyle, Laura A; Teagasc Walsh Fellowship Programme (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2013-08-01)
      This study evaluated the influence of floor type on sow welfare with particular focus on lameness, claw lesions (CL), and injuries. The study used 164 gilts housed in groups of 8 from AI to 110 d of pregnancy in pens with concrete (n = 84) slatted floor left uncovered or covered by 10-mm rubber slat mats (n = 80) through 2 parities. Lameness (0 = normal to 5 = severe), limb (0 = normal to 6 = severe) and body (0 = normal to 5 = severe) lesions, and manure on the body (MOB; score 0 to 2) were recorded at AI, 24 to 72 h postmixing, between 50 and 70 d of pregnancy, and 2 wk before farrowing. Claw lesions (score 0 = normal to 3 = severe) were recorded at AI and between 50 and 70 d of pregnancy. The dirtiness and wetness of the floors was scored weekly (score 0 = clean to 4 = >75% of the pen soiled/wet). Data from the first and second parities were analyzed separately. Sows were categorized as nonlame (score ≤ 1) or lame (score ≥ 2). Median (Me) scores were calculated for CL and body and limb lesions and were classified as less than or equal to the median or greater than the median lesion scores. Sows on rubber slat mats had a reduced risk of lameness during both parities (P < 0.01) compared with sows on concrete. They also had an increased risk of scores greater than the median for toe overgrowth (Me = 2 and Me = 3 in the first and second parity, respectively) and heel sole crack (HSC; Me = 3) during both parities (P < 0.01) and for cracks in the wall (CW; Me = 4) and white line damage (WL; Me = 4; P < 0.01) in the first and second parity, respectively. There was a reduced risk of lameness in sows with scores greater than the median for HSC (P = 0.05) in the first parity and WL (Me = 3; P < 0.01) and CW (Me = 3; P < 0.05) in the second parity. Wounds (Me = 3) and severe lesions (Me = 0) on the limbs with scores greater than the median were associated with an increased risk of lameness (P < 0.01) in the first and second parity, respectively. Sows on rubber slat mats had a reduced risk of scores greater than the median for swellings (Me = 4) and wounds (P < 0.01) during both parities. Pens with rubber slat mats were dirtier than uncovered pens (P < 0.01); however, there was no association between MOB and flooring type. There was also no association between body lesion score and flooring type. In this study, CL were not associated with an increased risk of lameness. Therefore, even though rubber slat mats were associated with an increased risk of CL, they improved the welfare of group housed sows by reducing the risk of lameness and limb lesions.
    • Predicting Productive Performance in Grow-Finisher Pigs Using Birth and Weaning Body Weight

      Camp Montoro, Jordi; Garcia Manzanilla, Edgar; Solà-Oriol, David; Muns, Ramon; Gasa, Josep; Clear, Oliver; Calderon Diaz, Julia; Teagasc Walsh Scholarship Programme; Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine; 14/S/832 (MDPI AG, 2020-06-12)
      This study aimed to (1) investigate the effect of birth and weaning body weight (BW) on performance indicators of grow-finisher pigs and (2) estimate birth and weaning BW cut-off values in order to identify slow growing pigs (SGP). Pigs (n = 144) were classified as SMALL (0.9 ± 0.13 kg) or BIG (1.4 ± 0.20 kg) at birth and re-classified as SMALL (5.4 ± 1.6 kg) or BIG (6.3 ± 1.91 kg) at weaning. Individual BW was recorded bi-weekly, and feed intake was recorded on a daily basis. Average daily gain (ADG) and feed intake, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and days to target slaughter weight (TSW) were calculated. SMALL–SMALL pigs had lower ADG (p < 0.05) requiring 167.1 days (i.e., 14.2 extra days) to TSW (p < 0.05) compared with BIG pigs at birth and/or weaning. However, FCR was similar between groups (p > 0.05). Pigs weaned at <3.7 kg BW would likely be SGP. Pigs born at ≥1.1 kg BW or weaned at ≥6.4 kg BW are more likely to reach TSW at 22 weeks of age. The results suggest that birth BW might not be the best predictor for subsequent performance, as some small-born pigs were able to catch up with their bigger counterparts. The cut-off values identified could be used to design specific management and nutritional strategies for SGP.