Weaned Pigs Require More Care in Transport

In this project, researchers reviewed data from more than 7,000 loads of weaned and feeder pigs, looking for possible mortality relationships and the long-term impact of transport stress on piglets and the environmental characteristics within the trailer.

Researchers found that weaned pigs had significantly greater death loss during transport than did feeder pigs (0.0333% versus 0.0243%), likely due to the combined stress of weaning and transport. In addition, weaned pigs were more susceptible to transport stress during hot weather (above 77 degrees F) than feeder pigs. More specifically, the longer the travel distance, the higher mortality was in weaned pigs. Elevated death loss was highest in feeder pigs that traveled the longest distances. For both classes of pigs, mortality rates during shipping were lowest in mild weather (59 to 77 degrees F). Therefore, greater measures to reduce heat stress for weaned pigs may be necessary.

There was a holdover affect, as weaned pigs that faced transport stress tended to have higher death loss in their second week in the finisher. During the first week, mortality rates were 0.050%, 0.050% and 0.045% for cold, mild and hot weather transport respectively. In the second week, mortality rates were 0.354%, 0.300% and 0.272% for cold, mild and hot transport. This may be due to starve-out of pigs that failed to thrive in the first week, but succumbed in the second week. Researchers noted the cause/effect linkage to transport environment is not clear cut and other effects are certainly involved.
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Pork Checkoff Research Review: Evaluating Transport Conditions on Weaned and Feeder Pig Performance