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Code Changes Impact Approach to Piglet Management

8 May 2017, at 12:00am

CANADA - A Research Scientist with the Prairie Swine Centre says changes to Canada's Pig Code of Practice have resulted in changes to the timing of processing procedures for newly born piglets, writes Bruce Cochrane.

As part of Canada's revised Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs pork producers are now required to administer an analgesic to piglets under 10 days of age to treat post procedural pain following tail docking or castration and an analgesic and an anesthetic to piglets over 10 days of age.

Dr Jenifer Brown, a Research Scientist Ethology with the Prairie Swine Centre, says the change has prompted producers to carry out both procedures at the same time.

Dr Jenifer Brown-Prairie Swine Centre

In the past we often did tail docking very early on after piglets were born and then maybe waited a couple of days to perform castration.

Now that pain control is required both for tail docking and castration there is an interest in performing all those procedures at once.

That usually turns out that at about three days of age up to five days of age, depending on the producer, and because it's required for tail docking as well as castration, you are collecting the entire litter, both males and females.

We would recommend providing pain control immediately so either as you're picking them up or immediately prior to doing any processing and then going ahead with processing and following up from there.

Initially there was some discussion of providing these drugs roughly 30 minutes ahead of time so they had a chance to get on board and become effective prior to castration but studies have shown that that added handling that would be involved in picking up piglets and injecting them and then later going back to process them, that added stress outweighs any benefit of having that drug already taken on board.

So we would recommend doing it all at once and as efficiently as possible.

Dr Brown encourages producers to report any benefits they've observed as the result of administering pain control.

She can be contacted by emailing jennifer.brown@usask.ca.