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Behaviour of piglets weaned at three or six weeks of age

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The objective of this experiment was to compare behaviour of piglets weaned and mixed at 21±1 (W21, n=81) or 43±1 (W43, n=70) days of age. Piglets were observed two days before weaning (D-2), just after weaning and mixing (D0) and 24 hours later (D1). Time spent feeding was lower on D0 compared to D1 in both treatment, but was lower in W21 than in W43 piglets (P<0.05). On D0, W21 piglets were less active than W43 piglets (P<0.001). Accordingly, between D-2 and D0, W43 piglets increased (P<0.001) time spent in aggression, exploration and locomotion. Conversely, W21 piglets were more active than W43 piglets on D1 (P<0.01). Timing of behaviour relative to weaning day differed between treatments; W21 piglets were more apathetic than W43 piglets just after weaning indicating a delay in the reaction of younger piglets to weaning and mixing. W21 piglets also had a greater and longer decrease in post-weaning eating incidence than W43 piglets, which is likely due to both older age and previous creep feed experience.
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Keywords: Weaning age; aggression; feeding behaviour; mixing; piglets; play

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Dairy and Swine Research and Development Centre, Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada

Publication date: 01 March 2009

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