Date Full Report Received06/29/2007
Date Abstract Report Received09/15/2008
Funded ByNational Pork Board
Multiple producer groups recommend that piglets be tail docked and ear notched within 24 hours of birth because the procedures are considered less stressful for the piglet at that age. However, there is no research to substantiate this recommendation. Therefore, the objective of this experiment is to compare the effects of processing during the first 24 hours versus 3 days of age on piglet suckling behavior, immune and endocrine status and growth. Piglets were assigned to three treatments (control, sham processed (handled only), and processed). These treatments were applied at either 1 or 3 days of age. Piglet behavior, vocalizations, and growth were examined, and blood was collected on day 5 to assess their immune status. While there were differences between processing and sham processing piglets in vocalizations and behavior, there was no long term effect of processing on suckling behavior or growth, and no consistent effect on health status. While tail docking and ear notching does appear to result in short-term pain and distress, there were no consistent differences between days of treatments, and processing on day 1 appears neither better nor worse than processing on day 3.