Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research vol:7 issue:2 pages:88-93
Piglets are subjected to several painful procedures during their first week of life, including ear tagging, teeth clipping or grinding (although routinely prohibited in Europe), tail docking (although routinely prohibited in Europe), needle injections (vaccination and iron injection), and castration might be performed for male piglets. All these management practices cause pain and stress to the newborn piglets. The hypothesis of this experiment was that reducing painful interventions during the first week of life results in better zootechnical performance of the piglets, reduced piglet mortality, and that the overall welfare is improved. To investigate this, the 4 lightest piglets of the experimental group (EE) were not subjected to tail docking and teeth clipping or grinding. The 4 lightest piglets of the control group (CL) and the other piglets of the experimental group (EC) and the control group (CC) received treatments as the common practice. There were differences in behavior, but there were no differences regarding weight at weaning between CL and EE. However, mortality rate was higher in the lightest piglets, that is, CL (34.1%) and EE (23.0%), whereas mortality rate in the other piglets was much lower (9.0% for CC and 9.3% for EC). This information can be useful for a veterinarian to advise farmers on whether painful interventions should be performed.