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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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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.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  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
  1. peer-reviewed