Effects of grouping unfamiliar cohorts, high ambient temperature and stocking density on live performance of growing pigs
Ninety-six crossbred intact male pigs (34.5 ?? 3.5 kg BW) were allocated by weight and vocalization score to a 2 ?? 2 ?? 2 dynamic experimental design including two stocking densities (1 or 2 m2/pig), two temperatures (22??C and 30??C), and two short groupings of unfamiliar cohorts (six pigs as one pig per group, and six pigs per group). The study was conducted over 8 wk, and live weight gain (WTG) and feed intake (FI; as-fed basis) were measured weekly. During the first week, pigs were housed in individual pens from four independent rooms. To group pigs, pen partitions were removed. Pigs were grouped in Rooms 2 and 3 from wk 2 to 4, and in Rooms 1 and 4 during wk 7. Temperature was increased from 22??C to 30??C in Rooms 1 and 2 during wk 4 and 7. Pen partitions were replaced in Rooms 2 and 3 at the end of wk 4 and in Rooms 1 and 4 at the end of wk 7 to return pigs to their individual pens. Grouping pigs decreased FI during wk 3 (15.08 ?? 0.43 vs. 14.03 ?? 0.41 kg P lt; 0.10), and during wk 7 (17.42 ?? 0.46 vs. 14.24 ?? 0.41 kg; P lt; 0.01). In addition, grouping had a negative effect (P lt; 0.001) on WTG at wk 3 (7.38 ?? 0.28 vs. 5.71 ?? 0.28 kg) and at wk 7 (6.70 ?? 0.26 vs. 2.99 ?? 0.26 kg). For grouped pigs, raising the temperature decreased (P lt; 0.01) WTG (7.49 ?? 0.29 vs. 6.41 ?? 0.29 kg during wk 4, and 3.37 ?? 0.38 vs. 2.62 ?? 0.38 kg during wk 7). Mean FI was decreased (P lt; 0.01) with the 30??C treatment during wk 7 only (15.49 ?? 0.33 kg at 20??C compared with 12.99 ?? 0.33 kg at 30??C). Compensatory feed intake was evident after the treatments had ceased at wk 6, whereby previously heat-treated grouped pigs had a higher FI (17.97 ?? 0.45 kg) than the animals individually housed at 22??C (12.99 ?? 0.33 kg). Stocking density effects were noted after the grouping and high temperature treatments had ceased. For instance, during wk 5, low-density-housed pigs grew faster (P lt; 0.001) than their high-density counterparts (9.04 ?? 0.38 vs. 7.49 ?? 0.29 kg). In conclusion, under the conditions of this study, the grouping of unfamiliar cohorts and high ambient temperature treatments had a detrimental effect on pig performance, and these effects were reversible. ??2005 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
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