Identifying challenges to manage body weight variation in pig farms implementing all-in-all-out management practices and their possible implications for animal health: a case study

Maria Rodrigues da Costa, Edgar García Manzanilla, Alessia Diana, Nienke Staaveren van, Alberto Torres-Pitarch, Laura A Boyle, Julia Adriana Calderón Díaz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReport/ Case Reportpeer-review

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Abstract

Background
Managing body weight (BW) variation is a challenge in farrow-to-finish farms implementing all-in/all-out (AIAO) production systems due to the lack of “off-site” facilities to segregate slow growing pigs (SGP). This case study investigated different approaches to managing BW variation in a farrow-to-finish commercial pig farm with a self-declared AIAO management and the possible implications for animal health.

Case presentation
A total of 1096 pigs (1047 pigs born within 1 week plus 49 pigs born 1 week later) were tracked until slaughter as they moved through the production stages. Piglets were individually tagged at birth and their location on the farm was recorded on a weekly basis. In total, 10.3% of pigs died during lactation. Four main cohorts of pigs were created at weaning and retrospectively identified: cohort 1 = pigs weaned at 21 days (4.5%); cohort 2 = pigs weaned at 28 days (81.0%), which was sub-divided at the end of the first nursery stage into sub-cohort 2a = pigs split at 3 weeks post-weaning (29.7%); sub-cohort 2b = pigs split at 3 weeks post-weaning from cohort 2a and split again 5 weeks post-weaning (35.5%) and sub-cohort 2c = remaining smaller size pigs from cohort 2b (10.9%); cohort 3 = pigs weaned at 35 days (2.7%) and cohort 4 = pigs weaned at 49 days (1.5%) that were later mixed with SPG, delayed pigs from other cohorts and sick/injured pigs that recovered. Four strategies to manage BW variation were identified: i) earlier weaning (cohort 1); ii) delayed weaning of SGP (cohort 3 and 4); iii) re-grading pens by BW (sub-cohorts 2a, 2b and 2c) and, iv) delayed movement of SGP to the next production stage (several pigs from all cohorts). A higher percentage of delayed pigs presented pericarditis, pleurisy and enzootic pneumonia like lesions at slaughter compared with pigs under other strategies.

Conclusion
A variety of management practices were implemented to minimise BW variation during the production cycle. However, several cohorts of pigs were created disrupting AIAO management. Earlier weaning should only be practiced under specific circumstances where optimal animal health and welfare are guaranteed. Delayed weaning of SGP and delaying pigs to move to the next production stage could negatively affect animal health and should be avoided.
Original languageEnglish
Article number10
Pages (from-to)10
JournalPorcine Health Management
Volume7
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jan 2021
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 11 Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Animal movements
  • Delayed pigs
  • Early weaning
  • Pig sorting
  • Production flow
  • Swine

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