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Effects of oxytocin administration on the response of piglets to weaning

Rault, J-L, Dunshea, F.R. and Pluske, J.R. (2015) Effects of oxytocin administration on the response of piglets to weaning. Animals, 5 (3). pp. 545-560.

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Weaning is often an abrupt and stressful process. We studied the effects of administering oxytocin, subcutaneously or intranasally, on the ability of pigs to cope with weaning. On a commercial farm 144, 30 day-old pigs from 24 litters were used. On the day of weaning, one male and one female in each litter were administered one of three treatments: intranasal oxytocin (24 International Unit), subcutaneous oxytocin (10 International Unit per kg of body weight), or handled as a control. The pigs were placed in one of eight weaner pens, split by sex and with an equal representation of treatments. Data included body weight and growth, physiology (neutrophil:lymphocyte ratio, plasma cortisol, C-reactive protein and Tumor Necrosis Factor-α concentrations), and behavior (feeding, drinking, social behavior). Both oxytocin treatments tended to result in higher levels of mild aggression within groups (p = 0.08), specifically between oxytocin-administered and control pigs (subcutaneous to control p = 0.03; intranasal to control p = 0.10). Subcutaneously-administered pigs tended to frequent the feeder more often than intranasally-administered pigs (p < 0.10), with the latter having slightly lower body weight 38 days post-weaning (p = 0.03). However, acute oxytocin administration did not result in any noticeable physiological changes 4 or 28 h post-weaning. Hence, the use of a single administration of oxytocin prior to weaning in pigs is not recommended, at least not in the conditions studied here.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI)
Copyright: © 2015 by the authors
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