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Play Enhances Physiological and Psychological Robustness of Grow-Finish Pigs and Ability to Recover from Disease

Research conducted by the Western College of Veterinary Medicine shows the opportunity to engage in play enhances the physiological and psychological robustness of grow-finish pigs and boosts their ability to recover from disease.

Research conducted through the NSERC Industrial Research Chair in Swine Welfare Research Program, which explored the potential of using play to increase psychological and physiological robustness in pigs was examined yesterday as part of a forum held in conjunction with the 2024 Banff Pork Seminar.

Karolina Steinerova, a PhD student with the Western College of Veterinary Medicine, says the performance of grow-finish pigs provided opportunities for play was compared to the performance of a control group.

Quote-Karolina Steinerova-Western College of Veterinary Medicine:

First of all, we successfully promoted play in grow-finish pigs.Our results also suggest that play is a positive experience for the pigs because we saw indications in their behavior.They find it rewarding and they are anticipating it in a positive way.

The third thing is that we actually saw a different response in the group with play opportunities when the pigs were challenged with porcine reproductive and respiratory virus PRRS.We saw different immune response which is very interesting.

Our play group during, the infection period, gained more weight, had higher average daily gain.Also, there was less aggression in the play pigs.They experienced less severe respiratory distress which is a usual clinical symptom of the PRRS virus and we also saw some modified immune response between the control and play pigs.

We saw that play pigs had lower white blood cells and also lower monocytes which is one of the target cells of PRRS.We can see some modified immune response in the play pigs and possibly also enhanced disease resilience.

Full details on this work can be accessed

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