Safe Management Series: pig welfare and its impact on production rates

Blog, Pig

Promoting the welfare of piglets influences their health and performance directly, as explained by Melina Bonato, from the Research and Development Department at ICC Brazil.

Welfare, together with environmental issues and food safety, are considered the three most significant challenges faced by animal production in recent years, mainly due to consumer demands. It is known that the greater the welfare of the animals, the better the results obtained. This applies to the rearing of several species, including pigs. ICC Brazil specialist Dr. Melina Bonato, R&D Manager address some factors related to the welfare of piglets and how it can influence their health and performance in the Safe Management series. Read on!

There are countless stress factors in pig farming; however, the weaning phase is considered one of the most worrisome as the piglets are subjected to a change in their environment, with new social interaction and diet transition. These stress factors make animals more susceptible to diseases that may lead to large losses in production. It has been observed that reinforcing the development, health, and performance of the piglets during the nursery phase optimizes their performance during the termination phase and therefore improves the quality of the end product.

Commercial weaning occurs between 17 and 28 days of life, when the piglets’ immune system is still immature, and its circulating antibodies reach the lowest levels. During this period, known as the “immunity gap” or “post-weaning gap”, the piglet is more susceptible to intestinal problems, such as diarrhea, because its specific immune system is not fully developed. After this period, the level of antibodies gradually increases, and the piglet develops its immunity. Thus, nutritional, sanitary, and animal management will directly influence their health, welfare, and performance.

The welfare of the piglets is key to minimizing stress in this phase,  thus improved training of the farm workforce will directly enhance the quality of the end product. The management of animals must be done calmly so that the piglets get used to human contact. The facilities must be adequate, providing comfort with the ideal capacity and with water and feed easily accessible for all animals. Temperature and humidity must always be checked, and the barn must be kept dry and protected, with adequate ventilation, low-level noise generation, and without direct contact with other species of animals.

Grouping animals may also interfere with the welfare of piglets. Ideally, piglets from the same litter should be kept in the same batch to minimize the stress caused by socialization. However, it is not always possible and therefore recommended to group the piglets by age and weight to reduce feed competition and stress.

All these measures enable the improvement of animal welfare, as a stress-free animal channel the energy acquired from the nutrients for health and performance and enhances production gains.

Hilyses®: ICC Brazil’s natural solution that leverages gains in pig farming, even in the most stressful phases

Stress is the animal organism’s response to a stimulus. It is not always negative; however, when we associate it with negative situations, the drop in performance and productivity is inevitable, since animal health is affected, as we have already discussed on ICC’s blog (

Ensuring adequate management, nutrition, and health program that respects each stage of production are key measures that minimize the stress of intensive production and provide better conditions of welfare, health, and performance indexes. For this reason, supplementing the diets of pregnant and lactating sows with natural additives that provide adequate support in these phases of great metabolic demand is very important. The results will be apparent in the piglets, which will better develop their immune system and will respond with improved efficiency to the challenges and stressful stimuli imposed by the field.

Hilyses® is an ICC Brazil product which, in addition to being a natural source of free nucleotides and nucleosides, extremely important for the initial stages of production (where the cell multiplication rate is high), also provides amino acids, peptides, short-chain polypeptides, and glutamic acid, MOS, and high levels of β-glucans, providing great benefits to animal nutrition and health.

Find out more about ICC Brazil’s nutritional solutions that may help you improve the welfare of pigs here:





Posted in 10 May of 2022