Research: Impact of ad lib feeding in guinea pig pregnancy on innate immunity

Bradshaw Piggies

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So when doing research at work today, I came across this paper published last year. Interesting results of the study, showing that with ad lib food, the immunity toward bacterial threats of lactating or pregnant sows was not compromised during these periods. These sows did show increased antibacterial resistance to be able to better protect her and babies in pregnancy,. as the initial hypothesis was that the immune system would be yet another system compromised during the pregnancy period. There was some compromise of the innate immune system as a result of the body focusing on reproduction; it was stated that this was in normal parameters and they did not suffer reductions of much significance.

(Trillmich, et al. 2020)

I know you probably all think that I'm just rambling on, but it was really nice to come across a guinea pig publication at work that's main objectives are to enhance understanding of guinea pig physiology and promote welfare. Most of the papers I come across are usually guinea pigs being used in trials for other research, rather than focus being on the piggies themselves. It's a shame they are so under-researched (I remember our vet discussing the limited entries in publications with me when I was last there). So that's why it was nice to stumble across something today! And another reason to support ad lib fibre feeding if nothing else!

Thought some of you on here might be pleased to know that there is some more research going on! Small steps.....
 

Bill & Ted

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It’s great to see that guinea pigs are not always the “guinea pigs” but seriously there should be so much more research on these little guy’s. They have such complex little lives and relationships, I think we are only stretching the surface 😊
 

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Hopefully this is the start. Has it ever been cited? And what about the references in the paper, could they be followed to more (up to date) research?
 

Bradshaw Piggies

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Hopefully this is the start. Has it ever been cited? And what about the references in the paper, could they be followed to more (up to date) research?
It’s peer reviewed yes, not sure if it’s cited elsewhere as I couldn’t find anything. It’s pretty up to date (2020). I had another scan through some of the animal science journals this afternoon, but guinea pig literature remains quite limited
 

Tara95

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That all sounds really interesting, I was watching this documentary on guinea pigs ( I think it's on Amazon or Netflix or something like that) it's a fairly old documentary made around 2005 or around that time and it basically said sows in this study who were stressed during pregnancy (a higher cortisol level) would produce sow daughters with a higher testosterone and therefore more aggressive compared to sows who were not exposed to stress during pregnancy. I wasn't personally a fan of this documentary, didn't think it was evidence based on only a few studies and they also showed people eating them in different cultures. It didn't do guinea pigs justice, I enjoyed the part about the wild guinea pigs but was disappointed to know they didn't squeak :( because of predators it would give them away. So the squeak has been bred basically. :(
 

Bradshaw Piggies

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That all sounds really interesting, I was watching this documentary on guinea pigs ( I think it's on Amazon or Netflix or something like that) it's a fairly old documentary made around 2005 or around that time and it basically said sows in this study who were stressed during pregnancy (a higher cortisol level) would produce sow daughters with a higher testosterone and therefore more aggressive compared to sows who were not exposed to stress during pregnancy. I wasn't personally a fan of this documentary, didn't think it was evidence based on only a few studies and they also showed people eating them in different cultures. It didn't do guinea pigs justice, I enjoyed the part about the wild guinea pigs but was disappointed to know they didn't squeak :( because of predators it would give them away. So the squeak has been bred basically. :(
That is interesting. Obviously, as you say, the population size investigated and the reliability of any research can always be questioned. Can you remember the name of the documentary?
 

rp1993

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The documentary is on Amazon prime, I have seen it, if you type guineapigs in it should come up! I have to scroll through the bits about the South American people eating them and I also felt the researcher was just showing bad care, just picking up a pig and putting it into a new enclosure and things. Not the nicest documentary!
 

Tara95

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That is interesting. Obviously, as you say, the population size investigated and the reliability of any research can always be questioned. Can you remember the name of the documentary?
I think it's called the secret life of guinea pigs! It's not the most moral documentary as they deliberately stress the guinea pigs out to get the results I seem to remember and obviously eating them is a big no no!
 

Tara95

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The documentary is on Amazon prime, I have seen it, if you type guineapigs in it should come up! I have to scroll through the bits about the South American people eating them and I also felt the researcher was just showing bad care, just picking up a pig and putting it into a new enclosure and things. Not the nicest documentary!
Yep I felt that I was so excited to watch it as I thought finally a documentary about Guinea pigs that includes the wild! Was disappointed by it especially the eating!
 

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So when doing research at work today, I came across this paper published last year. Interesting results of the study, showing that with ad lib food, the immunity toward bacterial threats of lactating or pregnant sows was not compromised during these periods. These sows did show increased antibacterial resistance to be able to better protect her and babies in pregnancy,. as the initial hypothesis was that the immune system would be yet another system compromised during the pregnancy period. There was some compromise of the innate immune system as a result of the body focusing on reproduction; it was stated that this was in normal parameters and they did not suffer reductions of much significance.

(Trillmich, et al. 2020)

I know you probably all think that I'm just rambling on, but it was really nice to come across a guinea pig publication at work that's main objectives are to enhance understanding of guinea pig physiology and promote welfare. Most of the papers I come across are usually guinea pigs being used in trials for other research, rather than focus being on the piggies themselves. It's a shame they are so under-researched (I remember our vet discussing the limited entries in publications with me when I was last there). So that's why it was nice to stumble across something today! And another reason to support ad lib fibre feeding if nothing else!

Thought some of you on here might be pleased to know that there is some more research going on! Small steps.....
Guinea pigs are so dreadfully underresearched but glad to know that our existing recommendations do work out.
 

Eriathwen

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I remember reading a while back an extract from a book about behaviour where they swapped baby boars around to meet several adult boars to see how it effected them in adulthood, it turned out those exposed to more adult boars as babies produced far less cortisol than those that didn't, and were able to live with several other males as adults without stress and excessive dominance. Makes you wonder if this is why some people manage to have successful boar herds and others struggle :) there is shamefully little research into guinea pigs, but what it out there is really interesting.

Sorry thats totally unrelated 🤣 but this just reminded me of it
 

Free Ranger

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I tell you what is unrelated but what I remember whenever 'deliberate stressing' comes up is that years ago I went to a small aquarium in Southport and, among other things, they had a single puffer fish in a big tank. I was looking at this fish thinking 'it's not very puffy' when Hubs (pre-hubs then) reminded me they puff up when stressed and we agreed it was nice to see an un-stressed puffer fish... and carried on round the corner to be scared by the piranhas at the end of the tour. 2 minutes later we heard vigorous tapping on glass as they next people tried to alarm the puffer fish - that was when we realised the life of a puffer fish in a small aquarium was not ever going to be a peaceful one. Maybe it had gotten used to it by then though.
PS: I totally grassed them up on the way out :nod:
 

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I remember reading a while back an extract from a book about behaviour where they swapped baby boars around to meet several adult boars to see how it effected them in adulthood, it turned out those exposed to more adult boars as babies produced far less cortisol than those that didn't, and were able to live with several other males as adults without stress and excessive dominance. Makes you wonder if this is why some people manage to have successful boar herds and others struggle :) there is shamefully little research into guinea pigs, but what it out there is really interesting.

Sorry thats totally unrelated 🤣 but this just reminded me of it
Guinea pigs are wired to go feeding in herds, so baby boars would be exposed to other boars on a twice daily basis while the individual sub-groups are very territorial about their sleeping areas. Research has also shown that some bachelor boars will 'adopt' young weaned boars and act as gardian/teachers.

But baby boys or boars brought up in a room with sows or a large herd are generally known to be much less prone to overreacting when you ask rescue people. The problems usually come when you introduce sows into a boars-only space, as we all know.

My Nosgan and Nye happily lived with sow neighbours. Nosgan was not into sows (hence young Nye). The two times I had to put in a divider short term during Nye's teenage were on multiple seasons events in the same room where the thick cloud of sow pheromones was more than palpable.

My husboars will meet on the roaming ground without fighting (by accident, I hasten to add) and are mostly getting on as neighbours through the bars just fine. The only time there is trouble is a cage invasion or a new overexcited husboar settling in. I also find it highly interesting that my Tribe boars do have a hierarchy worked out amongst them all; any new husboar will be measured up by rumblestrutting against each other through the bars with the two closest rungs in the hierarchy rumbling for the longest - I call this measuring up behaviour a 'boar haka'. When they accidentally meet on neutral ground the under-boar will usually hide somewhere out of the way. I am usually alerted by the hubbub created between the sows and the foreign boar but not by any hubbub between the two boars.

Sadly guinea pig social interaction is grossly underresearched. Interest in guinea pigs has only recently taken off, and is more geared towards welfare (nutrition, living conditions and care) from the kind of surveys that occasionally come my way for taking part in.
 

Bradshaw Piggies

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I think it’s important that anything published out there is reliable and peer reviewed. Unfortunately there’s a huge lack of reliable literature on guinea pigs.
work are asking for our research bids for the year. Maybe I should put something forward. Will be a change to my usual equine research
 

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I am planning to write a new series of articles on behaviours for Guinea Pig Magazine, starting later in the year trying to look at behaviours in their wider social context instead of in isolation. But that will be mostly based on my own piggies and experiences on this forum because there is virtually nothing around in this respect. I guess that somebody has to make a start...
 

Bradshaw Piggies

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I am planning to write a new series of articles on behaviours for Guinea Pig Magazine, starting later in the year trying to look at behaviours in their wider social context instead of in isolation. But that will be mostly based on my own piggies and experiences on this forum because there is virtually nothing around in this respect. I guess that somebody has to make a start...
Of course. I very much look forward to reading your new series! 😊
 

Siikibam

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@Tara95 is it the real guinea pig? One o those in university was missing fur on its back ☹
 
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