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J Anim Sci. 1998 Mar;76(3):721-7.

Growth performance of pigs subjected to multiple concurrent environmental stressors.

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Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA.


The effects of many single stressors have been reported, but how pigs perform when subjected to more than one or two stressors at a time, as is common in commercial swine production, has not. To study this, 256 Yorkshire x Hampshire or purebred Duroc pigs (34.7+/-.5 kg) were subjected to one of the eight treatment combinations (2 x 2 x 2 factorial) of ambient temperature (constant thermoneutral [24 degrees C] or high cycling temperature [28 to 34 degrees C]), stocking density (.56 or .25 m2/pig), and social group (static group or regrouped at the start of wk 1 and 3) during a 4-wk experiment. The temperature regimens were imposed in two adjacent mechanically ventilated rooms, and each temperature was imposed in each room across two trials. Four barrows and four gilts were assigned to each of the eight pens in the two rooms, and they always had free access to water and a corn-soybean meal-based diet. Treatments were imposed after a 7-d acclimation period at 24 degrees C and .56 m2/pig. Weight gain and feed intake were measured weekly. The main effects of each of the stressors for 4-wk ADG and ADFI were significant (P < .05). The stress of high temperature, high stocking density, and regrouping depressed 4-wk ADG by 12, 16 and 10% and ADFI by 7, 6, and 5%, respectively. Of the possible 60 stressor interactions for ADG, ADFI, and gain:feed (G:F), there were no significant three-way interactions and only six two-way interactions, suggesting that the effects of the individual stressors were additive. Accordingly, the growth rate of pigs subjected to the single stressor of high cycling temperature, restricted space allowance, or regrouping was depressed 10, 16, and 11%, respectively, and ADG of pigs subjected to all three stressors simultaneously was depressed by 31%. Stressor additivity was further corroborated by examining the effect of stressor order, or the number of stressors imposed simultaneously. As the number of stressors increased from 0 to 3, ADG, ADFI, and G:F decreased linearly. These data suggest that multiple concurrent stressors affect growth performance of pigs in a predictable fashion (i.e., additively) and indicate that avoidance or removal of a given stressor is advantageous even when other uncontrollable stressors persist.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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