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Title:Effect of drying piglets at birth using desiccants on post-natal changes in rectal temperature, suckling behavior, and immune status
Author(s):Olivo Espinal, Alicia
Advisor(s):Ellis, Michael
Department / Program:Animal Sciences
Discipline:Animal Sciences
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):desiccant, drying, hypothermia, piglet, rectal temperature, behavior.
Abstract:Over recent years there has been a considerable increase in number of piglets born per litter on commercial swine units in the US. However, piglet pre-weaning mortality remains a challenge for the industry. One of the primary causes of pre-weaning piglet mortality is hypothermia in the early post-natal period. Piglets are born wet into a relatively cool environment, and, therefore, experience a large decline in body temperature. One method to reduce piglet temperature decline is to dry piglets at birth, thereby reducing evaporative heat loss. However, there is limited information on the effectiveness of the various materials that can be used to dry piglets, or on the effect of drying piglets on subsequent suckling behavior and immune status. Two studies were carried out; the objective of Study 1 was to evaluate the effects of drying piglets at birth using desiccants composed of differing materials on post-natal changes in rectal temperature within the first 2 h after birth. The objective of Study 2 was to determine the effects of drying piglets at birth on suckling behavior and immune status. In both studies, a randomized complete block design was used with farrowing date as the blocking factor. Litter was the experimental unit, and piglet was a subsample of the litter. For Study 1, a total of 40 sows/litters (546 piglets) were used to compare four Desiccant Treatments (applied at birth): Control (piglets not dried) and three treatments involving the use of a desiccant to dry piglets, with the main ingredients varying between treatments: Mineral-based, Cellulose-based, and Mixed (based on a mixture of mineral and cellulose). All piglets were weighed at birth and rectal temperatures were measured at 0, 15, 30, 45, 60, and 120 min after birth. Piglet rectal temperatures were lower (P < 0.05) for the Control compared to the three other Desiccant Treatments at all measurement times except for at birth. There were no differences (P > 0.05) at any measurement time for piglet temperature between the three treatments involving drying. These results suggest that the three desiccants evaluated in this study were equally effective at reducing the extent of piglet post-natal temperature decline. For Study 2, a total of 40 sows/litters (570 piglets) were used to compare two Drying Treatments (applied at birth): Control (piglets not dried) and Dried (piglets dried using a commercially available cellulose-based desiccant). A sample of 15 litters per treatment (Group A) were used to measure piglet time of birth, time of return to the farrowing pen after handling and treatment, and the time of first suckling. Blood samples were obtained at 24 h after the end of farrowing from a sub-sample of eight piglets from each litter (two piglets from each quartile of the time from birth to the first suckling within the litter). Serum obtained from each blood sample was analyzed for immunoglobulin immunocrit concentration. A sample of 5 litters per treatment (one litter per treatment on each day of farrowing; Group B) was used to characterize post-natal changes in piglet rectal temperature (measurements taken at 0, 15, 30, 45, 60, and 120 min after birth on all piglets in the litter). Piglet rectal temperatures (Group B) were similar to those in Study 1, with the Dried treatment resulting in greater (P < 0.05) temperatures than the Control at all measurement times except at birth. The time from birth to first suckling (Group A) was lower (P < 0.05) for the Dried compared to the Control treatment. However, serum immunocrit values were not different (P > 0.05) for both treatments. In conclusion, the studies reported in this thesis suggest that drying piglets with a desiccant of the types evaluated reduced the extent of post-natal decline in rectal temperature. In addition, drying piglets at birth reduced the time for piglets to first suckle but had no effect on immunocrit concentration. There has been very little research on interventions to reduce piglet temperature decline for other potential effects on piglet behavior or immune status, and this research area warrants further investigation.
Issue Date:2021-07-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Alicia Olivo Espinal
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-01-12
Date Deposited:2021-08

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