Effect of Mixing Piglets Affected by E.coli Diarrhoea on Growth and Welfare

Mixing piglets with E.coli diarrhoea reduced growth rate, report researchers from Spain. They added that, after weaning, pigs mixed pre-weaning spent less time fighting than the control group.
calendar icon 19 September 2012
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In the latest issue of Journal of Swine Health and Production, J. Quiñonero of the Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena in Murcia, Spain and co-authors there and Universidade Federal de Goiás in Goiania, Brazil report their work to evaluate the effects of mixing piglets prior to weaning on growth and behavioral and physiological stress markers during the pre-weaning and post-weaning periods in the face of an outbreak of Escherichia coli diarrhoea.

The researchers used 24 sows and their litters from two adjacent rooms (A and B, 12 litters per room), and six focal piglets (three males and three females) from each litter were included. In Room B, E.coli diarrhoea occurred on dayy 12 after birth. On day 18, the partitions between pairs of neighbouring pens were removed for 12 litters, allowing piglets access to two adjoining crate areas (forming six mixed litters). Pigs were weaned on day 28. Growth performance, behavioural stress markers and physiological stress markers (neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio and acute phase proteins; APPs) were measured from birth to day 58.

When colibacillosis occurred in Room B, there was a detrimental effect on growth performance, especially when piglets were mixed prior to weaning. Concentrations of APPs two days after weaning were higher in Room B. Mixed piglets spent more time fighting immediately after mixing; however, after weaning, mixed piglets spent less time fighting than the controls.

Mixing piglets affected by E.coli diarrhoea may have a detrimental effect on growth rate, and animals with colibacillosis may have higher APP concentrations, concluded Quiñonero and co-authors. They added that, after weaning, pigs mixed pre-weaning spend less time fighting than controls, which might help them cope with the stress of weaning.


Quiñonero J., G. Ramis, E. Lopes, E. María-Dolores and E. Armero. 2012. Effect of mixing piglets affected by Escherichia coli diarrhea on growth and welfare responses. J Swine Health Prod., 20(5):216–222.

Further Reading

You can view the full report by clicking here.

Find out more about E.coli diarrhoea by clicking here.

September 2012
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