Haematology and Nutrient Digestibility of Pigs at Three Weaning Ages
Eighteen piglets from three primiparous Large White gilts randomly assigned to three weaning ages were studied to determine the effects of different weaning age on the nutrient digestibility and hematology of growing pigs. Six piglets each were weaned at 4, 6 and 8 weeks of age. Packed cell volume (PCV) and hemoglobin concentration (Hb) values were lowest (p<0.05) in piglets weaned at 4 weeks of age. Piglets weaned at 6 weeks of age had the highest (p<0.05) red blood cell count (RBC) and a significantly (p<0.05) higher white blood cell (WBC) than those weaned at 8 weeks. Mean Corpuscular Volume (MCV) and Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin (MCH) were lowest (p<0.05) in piglets weaned at 6 weeks of age, while Mean Corpuscular Hemoglobin Concentration was not significantly (p>0.05) affected by weaning age. Neutrophils, eosinophils and monocytes counts were significantly (p<0.05) affected by weaning age, while lymphocyte count was not significantly (p>0.05) influenced. Dry matter and nitrogen free extract (NFE) Digestibility was highest (p<0.05) in piglets weaned at 4 weeks of age, while crude protein (CP), crude fiber (CF) and ether extract (EE) digestibility were highest (p<0.05) in piglets weaned at 8 weeks. Piglets weaned at 6 weeks had intermediate values for CF, EE and NFE and the highest (p<0.05) value was recorded for ash digestibility. The results of this study show that weaning age had no adverse effect on the digestibility and hematology of the piglets and demonstrated the feasibility of early weaning at both 4 and 6 weeks of age, with weaning at 6 weeks being superior to weaning at 4 weeks.