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The effects of farrowing nest size and width on sow and piglet behaviour and piglet survival

By G. M. Cronin, B. Dunsmore, E. Leeson

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Abstract

The 'Werribee farrowing pen' (WFP) was developed as a loose housing alternative to the farrowing crate. The WFP occupies about twice the space of a crate and comprises 2 compartments, a 'nest' and a 'non-nest' area. The effects of 'nest' size (large: L vs. small: S) and width (wide: W vs. narrow: N) on sow and piglet behaviours and piglet survival were investigated. The experiment had a 2 x 2 factorial design with 9 replicates and a total of 72 primiparous sows (Large White x Landrace) and their litters. All subjects were included to day 4 of lactation, but production data to weaning (day 23) was restricted to 36 litters. The W, as compared to N treatment sows, had longer mean bouts of standing in the 'nest' during 16-8 h pre-farrowing (3.7 vs. 2.0 min), suggesting that pre-farrowing ('nesting') behaviour may have been adversely affected by narrow nest width. On the first 2 days of lactation, sow suckling grunts occurred more in the W than N treatment (14.1 and 8.0% of observations). However, this was due to an approximately 50% lower incidence in the SN treatment, compared with the other treatments combined (5.9 and 12.7%). Piglets spent more time at the udder in L vs. S (41 and 30

Date 1998
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 60
Issue 4
Pages 331-345
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Animal Welfare Centre, Victorian Institute of Animal Science, Private Bag 7, Sneydes Road, Werribee, Vic 3030, Australia.
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Farrowing
  7. Mammals
  8. Meat animals
  9. mortality
  10. peer-reviewed
  11. size
  12. survival
  13. Swine
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed