Impact of Providing Feed and/or Water on Performance, Physiology, and Behavior of Weaned Pigs during a 32-h Transport
Transportation at weaning is a complex stressor made up of many factors, including withdrawal from feed and water, which can potentially negatively affect the health and welfare of pigs, especially those already experiencing weaning stress. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of weaning and extended transport durations (up to 32 h), with and without the provision of feed and/or water, on pig welfare. Treatment groups included: pigs neither weaned nor transported, control (CON); weaned pigs transported and provided with feed and water (T+); weaned pigs transported without feed and water (T−); weaned pigs transported with only feed (T+F); and weaned pigs transported with only water provided (TRAN+W). The effect of transport (with and without feed and/or water) on weaned pigs was assessed using behavior, performance, and physiology. After a 32-h transport period, pigs transported without water lost markedly more weight than those transported with water (p < 0.01). Furthermore, the neutrophil to lymphocyte ratio was markedly higher in male pigs transported without water (p < 0.05). Overall, transportation had a negative effect on pig well-being, especially when water was not provided.