A novel approach to potentially improve pig growth and welfare is to supplement environments with biologically meaningful odors that are deficient. The post-weaning environment lacks maternal odors that may contribute to the often-observed post-weaning lag in growth and health challenges. A recently reported rabbit maternal pheromone (2-methyl-2-butenal (2M2B)) may act as an interomone in the pig. The objective of this study was to determine if providing a maternal pheromone/interomone during transport and the post-weaning environment may enhance pig performance. A total of 40 replicated pens were used in a factorial arrangement of two transport olfactory experiences (Control v. 2M2B), two nursery olfactory experiences (Control v. 2M2B) and two sexes (barrow v. gilt). Pig body weight, average daily gain (ADG), average daily feed intake (ADFI) and gain : Feed ratio (G : F) were measured and calculated over a 28-day post-weaning period. Pig sex and application of 2M2B during transport had no effect on pig performance. However, pigs that had 2M2B applied to their feeder at weaning had 15% greater feed intake (0.74 v. 0.64±0.03 kg/day, P<0.01) and 12% greater ADG (0.27 v. 0.24 kg/day, P<0.05) than control pigs. G : F ratio was not different between treatments. The interomone 2M2B is a novel, safe molecule that can improve pig post-weaning performance. This report highlights a new area of study and a natural class of compounds that can improve pig performance and potentially improve pig welfare.
- rabbit pheromone
- weight gain