Reducing stress in pigs with Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
Specialist pig vets are increasingly using Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) as an adjunct to antibiotic therapy, to control pain and manage stress in pig units.
Welfare is always an important consideration and stressed animals do not tend to be as productive. Stress may be the result of transportation, vaccination, weaning or mingling animals. The use of NSAIDS, such as salicylates in treating inflammation pigs has long been appreciated and they can be a useful anti-pyretic adjunct in the treatment of bacterial and viral infections. Salicylates are also known to provide analgesia.
Reducing combined stress
Salicylates can be added to the first drinking water supplied to weaners with a view to reducing the combined stress of weaning, transport and vaccination. This is administered for 20- 24 hours and the product remains stable for 24 hours in drinking water. When used during vaccination: Treatment with salicylates is started around noon prior to the day scheduled for vaccination and continued on the day of vaccination. It has been observed that treated pigs appear to recover more quickly in the days after vaccination. Administering salicylates to weaners 20-24 hours before travel appears to result in more relaxed, less stressed animals, with anecdotal reports of pigs actually falling asleep during transport. In cases where a group of pigs is showing general discomfort for whatever reason, such as exposure to extreme cold or heat, or draughts, or temporary lack of access to food, salicylates appear to assist recovery.
Experience from a pig vet
Nico Brons, a senior vet working within the Easey Group in the UK, recently reviewed the potential for salicylates to improve welfare and quality of life in a pig production unit. Nico Brons, a senior vet working within the Easey Group in the UK solely with pigs, has recently been relating a story that has highlighted the benefits of NSAIDs and stress reduction in pigs. A lorry driver with 17 years experience collected 1200 weaners, which had been treated with Solacyl – a water- soluble salicylate – to transport them to the finishing site. Upon arrival he opened the lorry to start offloading the animals but was shocked to see 30 to 40 piglets lying flat out on the lorry. His first thought was that he had lost them due to transport stress, as in all his years of experience this was never a behaviour he had observed. He panicked and rang the fieldsman responsible for the unit but as he was doing so the farmer went on to the lorry and noticed that the piglets were asleep. Upon wakening them, they immediately jumped off the lorry demonstrating that they were in very good health.
Nico believes that in many cases the effects of stress on pigs may be underestimated, yet could be relatively easily overcome. He has recently started administering Solacyl routinely to weaners 20-24 hours before travel and found that the practise results in more relaxed, less stressed animals.