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For any mammal, weaning is one of the most important stress situations in the life cycle. Pigs are no exception and piglets suffer a high level of stress at weaning. For this reason, knowing what causes stress in piglets and what consequences it has will be very useful for us in the possible solution of problems that may appear later. It must be taken into account that the changes that a piglet undergoes at weaning are many and very notable:

 1- Nutritional changes:

From the point of view of the degree of stress, the most important is possibly the drop in feed consumption at the time of weaning.

This fact causes the following changes:

  • Reduction of the height of the intestinal villi (shown in the attached figures)
  • Enzymatic changes
  • Changes in the microbiota.

Figure 1: Changes in the intestinal villus length of the piglet before and after weaning.

A change in the structure of the small intestine can be seen, five days after weaning compared to a piglet before weaning (Plucked, 1995).

In recent years, a lot of importance has been attached to intestinal health and in this way, it has been studied what the ideal digestive flora should be and it has been observed that when post-weaning stress increases, the percentage of E coli increases in relation to Lactobacillus. This fact implies a possible colonization of other pathogens and absorption of toxins that they generate themselves. Therefore, ensuring feed consumption as soon as possible is one of the most important rules in the post-weaning phase.

Biocides ZIX Recommendation 1: Piglets must have easy access to feed and to do so, using the same or very similar feeders to those used in farrowing pens can be of great help to optimize consumption.

Biocides ZIX 2 recommendations: the food offered in farrowing units must be the same as that offered post-weaning, in this way we reduce novelties to the piglet.


Table 1: Correlation between feed intake the first week after weaning and weight gain in the first five weeks after weaning. Adapted from Bruininx, E.M et al (2002).

Additionally, water has an even greater importance, not only the quantity, but also the quality.

Water is the main substitute for milk at the time of weaning and is also a stimulant for consumption. You should always provide quality water, properly sanitized, but in the weaning phase this point is especially important since we are dealing with young animals with an underdeveloped digestive system that is still much more sensitive to potential pathogens.

Water is a predisposing factor, quantitatively and qualitatively, of a series of pathologies of various etiologies: bacterial, viral, parasitic and chemical, which is why it is a key element in any biosafety program and a critical point that must be part of everything. HACCP .

Drinking water quality control is important for profitability and safety. In addition, it is one of the basic parameters for certification of a farm, for which we must standardize, protocolize and trace it.

AQUAZIX® PLUS is a product based on Hydrogen Peroxide, silver and Enterozix nucleus. It achieves water of high microbiological quality due to the highly biocidal efficacy of hydrogen peroxide, further enhanced by silver. It also provides intestinal health, contributing to a strengthening of the immune system of our animals, and a better general state of health. In addition, AQUAZIX® PLUS will keep our water distribution systems in optimal conditions. and it will also help the immune system of our animals to be in optimal condition, promoting intestinal health and preventing the digestive colonization of any type of microorganism outside the saprophytic flora.


2- Social changes


It is the most obvious but the most difficult to manage. The separation from the mother is basic for the logical rhythm in pig production. A farm cannot be understood without a reproductive rate of at least 2.4 farrowing per sow per year, for this we must wean the piglet early, with a minimum of 21 to 28 days being the most common, but in both cases it is early. Under natural conditions, a piglet is progressively weaned and eats solid food shared with the mother’s milk. In fact, we have experiences in pig farms raised in more natural conditions of 70-day lactations, but the time of weaning continues to be, even in those conditions, a stress.

How these factors influence and how to prevent them at the time of separation from the sow will help us to minimize social stress.

First, we must ensure that the intake is small amounts of food several times a day as if the sow will call them to teat, it is something natural and it is not easy to reproduce, but it is important.

On the other hand, avoiding the mixing of piglets and respecting the group would be highly desirable, but it is practically impossible in the production conditions that are being proposed.


3- Environmental and structural changes.

Calor-granjasThe environmental conditions are also key for the piglet to be comfortable at the time of weaning. The temperature, humidity, air quality in relation to harmful gases such as NH3, CO2, CO, etc…

At the post-weaning moment, the upper and lower critical temperatures (optimum temperatures for climatic comfort of the piglet, outside of which there is an affectation of the animal’s productive parameters) are close between each other. On the other hand, avoiding air flows are key to a good sensation and comfort for the piglet. On many occasions, a correct temperature is not synonymous with optimal environmental quality, since if the designs are not correct, air flows can be produced that generate discomfort. The temperature regulators of the rooms and the blankets must work correctly and in accordance with the temperature curve proposed for each production system and for each moment of the piglet’s growth.

Next, optimal environmental conditions are recommended for the piglet depending on its age and whether we are in a farm with forced ventilation in summer or winter.

Days postweaning 0 7 14 21 28 35 0 7 14 21 28 35
Desired temperature (ºC) 27 26 25 24 23 22 27 26 25 24 23 22
Aceleration 4 4 4 3 3 3 5 5 5 5 5 5
Minimum Ventilation (%) 18 21 24 27 30 33 13 16 19 22 25 28
Maximum Ventilation (%) 50 60 70 80 90 100 50 60 70 80 90 100
Thermal control temperature (blanket) (ºC) 37 34 30 28 23 20 40 36 32 30 25 20

Table 2: Temperature and ventilation recommendations throughout the post-weaning phase depending on the day of weaning and the season. Adapted from Quiles and Hevia (2006).

And to complete the environmental conditions we must take into account the harmful gases.

Gas Concentration, ppm
Ammonia (NH3) 20
Carbon dioxide (CO2) 3000
Carbon monoxide (CO) 10
Sulphidric acid (H2S) 0,5

Table 3: Maximum concentration of gases in animal housing (CIGR standard, international recommendation measured as concentration in volume). Source: 3three3

Granja-porcinaToday the recommendations are that farms present control systems based on regulators that automatically control all these recommendations, as well as alarm systems that warn of any deviation.

In addition, the piglets will change facilities in the weaning process. In the farrowing pens the piglets have structures that in the weaning farm will be different. It is extremely important that the warehouses where the piglets are received have previously gone through a good cleaning and disinfection, which allows optimal hygiene of the farm.

As a first step, it is necessary to carry out a correct cleaning with an alkaline detergent capable of dragging the organic matter that, a priori, covers and harbors said microorganisms. We recommend the use of the ZIX Biocide detergent (Clean Zix® Foaming) to carry out a correct cleaning and descaling of organic matter and thus expose all parts of the farm so that the disinfectants can reach the greatest number of microorganisms present.

Once the cleaning is done, it is time to combat microorganisms by confronting them with broad-spectrum products, with a non-specific mechanism of action that prevents the appearance of resistance, that are kind to animals, staff and the environment.

To do this, Biocidas ZIX has disinfectant products: Virox® (monopersulfate in powder form) and Zix® Virox (synergistic combination of peroxides and peracetic acid in liquid form). These products have a mechanism of action by oxidation that is non-specific and therefore broad-spectrum and fully biodegradable.

Finally, animals must have sufficient and adequate feeders and drinkers. The more drinkers and feeders there are, it will help to reduce the hierarchical fight that occurs because of the mixture of animals. We must remember that the piglet is an animal that tends to eat and drink at the same time, in the maternity wards, so there should be no shortage of hoppers, dishes and drinking fountains or water points for those first days.

The minimization and/or elimination of these moments of stress will help the animals to face their new stages in perfect health conditions, otherwise if the moments of stress are not controlled and we do not work on prevention, the self-defense levels of the animals will drop. causing major health problems.

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