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Sensory Systems

(24) The pig, like the human, experiences sound, sight, smell, taste, heat, cold, pain and balance. The way it responds to these assists us in the recognition of health and disease. For example, pain together with posture will often indicate a specific disease such as fracture of the vertebrae in the spine. Poor balance may be associated with infections of the middle part of the ear which is common in the young growing pig. Likewise the stockpersons own senses, particularly sight, smell and touch, are important in assessing whether the pig is healthy or ill and performing to its maximum biological efficiency.

Sight for example allows the stockperson to observe the lying patterns, any abnormal excretions, signs of disease and unevenness of growth. It also helps to appreciate the quality of the environment.

Smell allows the stockperson to detect toxic gases, blocked drains, putrefying tissue and humidity, important points to consider in respiratory disease. He or she may also learn to detect the smell of scour.

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