Behavioral, Endocrine, Immune, and Performance Measures for Pigs Exposed to Acute Stress

Tiffanie A. Hicks, John J. McGlone, C. Scott Whisnant, Henry G. Kattesh, Reid L. Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

175 Scopus citations

Abstract

Weanling pigs (n = 132) were used to investigate the effects of three common stressors (and a control) and differing social status on behavior, immunity, plasma cortisol, blood chemical, and performance measures. Eleven blocks of 12 pigs each were evaluated. Each pen contained three pigs of dominant (DOM), intermediate (INT), or submissive (SUB) social status. Two weeks later, random pens of pigs experienced either a control treatment (CON) or they were stressed for 4 h by shipping (SHIP), heat-stressed (HEAT) with overhead heat lamps in their home pens, or cold-stressed (COLD) by direct application of water and an air current. Treatments did not influence body weights; however, percentage weight loss during SHIP was greater than for other treatments. Body weights were heavier for DOM pigs than for INT and SUB pigs. Social status had large effects on plasma cortisol, globulin, acute-phase proteins, body weight, and weight changes. Only acute shipping stress resulted in weight loss. Many immune and blood measures were not changed among acutely stressed pigs; however, the relationship between social status and mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation and natural killer cell cytotoxicity was disrupted during acute stress. Pig behavior was significantly changed by each stress treatment in a unique manner. During acute stress, behavioral changes seem to be the most consistent and reliable indicators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)474-483
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of animal science
Volume76
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1998

Keywords

  • Behavior
  • Immunity
  • Pigs
  • Stress

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