McNamara, A., Allen, L. 2019. Bottle or bowl? Feeding and dosing in juvenile Göttingen minipigs. Animal Technology and Welfare 18(2), 153-154. (IAT Congress 2018 Poster Presentation)

The Laboratory Animal Technology department at Envigo were engaged to perform a toxicity study in juvenile Göttingen Minipigs. The test compound was a human milk formula additive. Therefore, to mimic the conditions of clinical administration, the dose was given in commercial porcine milk replacer. Piglets were fed every three hours, and dose was included in the feed at every second feeding occasion. Dosing on the preliminary study was performed via bottle. If the dose was not readily accepted by bottle, the dose could be given by syringe, or oral gavage. After a few days, most piglets accepted bottle feeding. However, in the first few days of dosing, most piglets lost weight and subsequent growth was not as fast as expected. Surplus piglets were used to assess other possible methods of feeding (and therefore dosing). Our animals took readily to pan feeding. However, they often swapped bowls and climbed into the milk. It was difficult to assess how much each piglet was drinking and to prevent the piglets applying the milk topically! Different methods of separating the piglets were trialled. It was discovered that piglets found it distressing to be completely separated from each other, even for the short feeding period. The piglets fed best when they were still in contact with their litter mates. For the main study, a special designed stall was created to allow the piglets to be separated for pan feeding, while still allowing visual and tactile contact with their cohort. A small bowl that attached to the stall, minimised the risk of the dose and milk being spilled or applied topically. The bottle-fed animals initially lost weight compared to their bottle-fed animals was slower that the pan-fed animals. Pan feeding was also significantly less demanding of staff time once the piglets had adapted to using the pan system. Therefore, based on this data, pan feeding is recommended as a method of oral dosing juvenile minipigs, and may be superior to bottle feeding.

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