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Effect of piglet weaning age on physiological, immunological and microbiological parameters

G. R. García, C. A. Dogi, G. E. Ashworth, D. Berardo, G. Godoy, L. R. Cavaglieri and others

WEANING has been shown to be a stressful period, with potential effects on the development of the immune system, the intestine and the intestinal microbiome. This study aimed to assess the long-lasting consequences of different weaning age on physiological, immunological and microbiological parameters of weaned piglets.

Thirty piglets from an intensive indoor breeding farm in Argentina were randomly selected from different litters and divided into two groups: 14-day weaning age and 21-day weaning age. Blood samples were taken from piglets in each group for IgG and cortisol analysis at one day before weaning and then at four, 20 and 40 days after weaning. Three animals were culled at each of the sampling days. The small intestines of each piglet were removed for morphometric analysis and intestinal fluid was collected for IgA analysis by ELISA. The caecum was removed for enterobacteria, lactobacilli and total anaerobes determination.

There was a significant decrease in plasma IgG concentration in piglets sampled immediately after weaning, but no differences were seen between the pigs in the 14-day weaning group and the 21-day weaning group. The highest cortisol level was obtained at the moment of weaning and by 20 and 40 days postweaning the levels were similar to those observed …

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