Chronic intermittent stress exposure and access to grass silage interact differently in their effect on behaviour, gastric health and stress physiology of entire or castrated male growing-finishing pigs.

Holinger, Mirjam; Früh, Barbara; Stoll, Peter; Graage, Robert; Wirth, Sandra; Bruckmaier, Rupert; Prunier, Armelle; Kreuzer, Michael; Hillmann, Edna (2018). Chronic intermittent stress exposure and access to grass silage interact differently in their effect on behaviour, gastric health and stress physiology of entire or castrated male growing-finishing pigs. Physiology & behavior, 195, pp. 58-68. Elsevier 10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.07.019

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Entire male pigs display more aggressive and sexual behaviour. This might cause a condition of chronic stress and impair their welfare. In order to assess chronic stress in entire and castrated male pigs, as well as effects of providing grass silage as occupational and feed material on behaviour and health, we carried out a 2 × 2 × 2-factorial experiment with 147 growing-finishing pigs. Factors investigated were castration (entire/castrated), chronic intermittent social stress exposure (yes/no) and access to grass silage (yes/no), as well as their interactions. The stress exposure treatment consisted of repeated short-term confrontations and separations. We recorded different behavioural variables, circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol, response to an ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) challenge test, pathological changes in the gastric mucosa and morphology of the intestinal epithelium. Stress exposure caused a decrease in posture changes and head knocks/bites in the home pen. Reference indicators affected by stress exposure did not differ between entire and castrated male pigs, indicating that there is no permanently increased baseline level of stress in entire male pigs. However, entire males responded more pronouncedly to the stress exposure compared to castrated males in terms of posture changes and play behaviour. Pigs provided with grass silage showed more play behaviour and less manipulative behaviours than pigs not receiving grass silage. Stress treated pigs had more hyperkeratosis in the gastric mucosa and gastric ulcers, while offering grass silage reduced such changes. In conclusion, our results indicate that the increased behavioural stress response of entire male pigs might require some adaptations in housing and management of entire male pigs. Gastric ulceration scoring turned out to be a potential post mortem indicator for chronic stress. Finally, providing roughages like grass silage could be a means to positively affect behaviour and gastric health in pigs.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Physiology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)

UniBE Contributor:

Bruckmaier, Rupert

Subjects:

600 Technology > 650 Management & public relations
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

0031-9384

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Hélène Elisabeth Meier

Date Deposited:

03 Dec 2018 15:10

Last Modified:

23 Oct 2019 13:41

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.physbeh.2018.07.019

PubMed ID:

30053433

Uncontrolled Keywords:

ACTH challenge Entire male pig Gastric ulcer Pars oesophagea Roughage Salivary cortisol Stress reactivity

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.121469

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/121469

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