The Assessment and Alleviation of Adverse Stimuli in Pigs

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The assessment of health and treatment of illness and injury in weaner pigs is of
vital importance to the piggery industry. The ability to identify early sickness
behaviours and have methods to measure recovery of these animals will enhance
production and improve animal wellbeing. In addition the administration of
analgesic/anti-inflammatory drugs to ill or injured animals provides pain relief
and improves recovery. The aim of this thesis was to improve pig health and
welfare management by focussing on “best practice” detection and management
of adverse stimuli. This was to be achieved by assessing pigs’ responses to
adverse stimuli on farm, using common and novel techniques, and assisting the
pigs ability to cope with adverse stimuli, mainly through the application of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Initial results from a producer survey
indicated that producers have a good understanding of anti-inflammatory drugs
and their application, it also highlighted that behaviour was one of the most used tools to assess pain in animals. The importance of behaviour in assessing
recovery was emphasised in the first experiment which compared new and
existing tools to assess the recovery of ill or injured weaner pigs, infrared eye
temperatures were correlated to rectal temperatures and pigs treated with
ketoprofen spent more time standing that pigs administered meloxicam. Two
further studies were conducted to determine the efficacy of three different
analgesic drugs on an inflammation model. The first of these was designed to
determine a suitable inflammation model to be used in pigs. It compared
inflammatory properties of turpentine, Improvac®, Neovac® and saline, results
indicated that Improvac® injection gave a similar acute phase response to
turpentine and it was established that it was suitable to be used as an
inflammation model to test anti-inflammatory medications. The second of these
studies compared meloxicam, ketoprofen and dexamethasone, both meloxicam
and ketoprofen showed anti-pyretic properties and ketoprofen treated pigs had
lower haptoglobin concentrations. The final experiment compared efficacy of
meloxicam and ketoprofen in a commercial setting on naturally occurring
lameness in weaner pigs, it also aimed to determine if administering antiinflammatory medicaments for a longer period of time that currently advised
improves recovery rates. Responses were similar for both anti-inflammatory
drugs and it was concluded that the administration of either anti-inflammatory
drug will assist in recovery during the acute phase of lameness. Additional
treatments did not appear to alter recovery rates. This thesis determined that
behaviour was a practical, subtle measure to identify illness and injury in pigs,
further research into the novel assessment measures of infrared eye temperatures and tear staining is needed before they could become practical tools within production and that ketoprofen and meloxicam can be considered equally effective in assisting recovery in weaner pigs.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Doyle, Rebecca, Principal Supervisor, External person
  • Holyoake, Trish, Co-Supervisor
  • Cronin, Greg, Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date02 May 2016
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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