Stress has a tremendous impact on the performance of pigs. Many factors such as health, environment, social circumstances, management practices, herd density and nutrition contribute to the overall stress load that a pig faces daily. There is a myriad of internal and external stimuli that can affect the homeostasis of an individual animal. In fact, common environmental and situational stressors – ranging from pathogens and stocking density to diet changes and extreme weather – can all impact the productivity of your animals. When a pig is experiencing stress conditions, cortisol is released, resulting in behavioral, metabolic, immunological and intestinal changes.1,2,3 Studies have shown that cortisol can have a negative impact on performance.4,5,6
Once homeostasis is disrupted, the body elicits physiological stress responses involving the immune system in an attempt to reestablish homeostasis. These changes can lead to decreased health and performance, including reduced feed intake, reduced growth rate and fertility and increased mortality.