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Immunocompetence of fattening pigs fed organic versus conventional diets in organic versus conventional housing

Millet, S.; Cox, E.; Buyse, J.; Goddeeris, B.M.; Janssens, G.P.J.

Veterinary Journal 169(2): 293-299

2005


ISSN/ISBN: 1090-0233
PMID: 15727924
DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2004.03.012
Accession: 004193244

The effect of organic or conventional feeding on the immune response of pigs was determined using organic or conventional housing in a pig fattening unit. The experimental design involved four pens of four animals per housing and diet combination (organic housing and organic nutrition; organic housing and conventional nutrition; conventional housing and organic nutrition and conventional housing and conventional nutrition). The IgM, IgA and IgG responses against intramuscularly injected bovine thyroglobulin were determined as indicators of the antigen-specific immune responsiveness. Some general health and welfare related parameters were evaluated by measuring haptoglobin concentrations at selected times; blood lactate concentration was measured at slaughter. Conventional housing led to a higher IgG response three weeks after the first immunisation. Organic housing led to lower haptoglobin and lactate concentrations at slaughter, indicating a higher stress resistance in these pigs. No major differences between the two feeding types were found. We conclude that the immune responses following either a conventional or an organic diet are comparable, whereas organic housing can increase stress resistance at slaughter compared to conventional housing.

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