Effect of response to backtest and housing condition on cell-mediated and humoral immunity in adult pigs

N.A. Geverink, H.K. Parmentier, G. de Vries Reilingh, W.G.P. Schouten, G. Gort, V.M. Wiegant

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Several recent studies in juvenile pigs demonstrated a relationship between the degree of resistance displayed early in life in a so-called "backtest" and parameters of cell-mediated and humoral immunity. Some of the immune characteristics were reported to depend on the interaction between backtest classification and housing system. In the present study, the effects of backtest classification and housing condition on immune reactivity in adult gilts were examined. At 10 and 17 days of age, female piglets were subjected to the backtest. In this test, each piglet is restrained on its back for 1 min and the number of escape attempts is scored. Pigs classified as high resisting (HR) or low resisting (LR) were selected and housed in groups of six gilts. At 7 months of age, half of the gilts were housed in individual stalls. At 12 months of age, gilts were challenged by immunization with DNP-KLH. Control gilts were treated similarly with a placebo. Blood samples were drawn prior to immunization (Day 0) and weekly thereafter until Day 28. No significant effects of backtest type on cellular and Immoral responses against KLH were found. Furthermore, being housed in stalls as compared to groups had no consequences for the immune response and did not induce differences between HR and LR gilts. Differences in behavior and physiology found previously between HR and LR gilts, particularly in gilts in stall housing, may thus be of relatively little importance for immune-related health. (C) 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-546
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • individual-differences
  • coping characteristics
  • manual restraint
  • breeding gilts
  • laying hens
  • cortisol
  • stress
  • behavior
  • strategies
  • aggression

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