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Individual differences in aggression and physiology in peri-pubertal breeding gilts

By N. A. Geverink, W. G. P. Schouten, G. Gort, V. M. Wiegant

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Several recent studies on pigs have demonstrated a relationship between the degree of resistance displayed in a so-called "backtest" and a variety of behavioural and physiological responses in piglets and young fattening pigs. However, the discussion about the predictive power of the backtest is still going on. This study aimed at investigating the relationship between the backtest response and behaviour and physiology in peri-pubertal, i.e. nulliparous breeding gilts. During the suckling period, gilts were subjected to the backtest. Piglets classified as low resisting (LR, n=36) and high resisting (HR, n=36) were selected. At 20 weeks of age, they were housed in groups of six (3 HR, 3 LR). Between 23 and 29 weeks of age, behaviour and physiology under undisturbed conditions were measured. At 26 weeks of age, LR pigs showed higher baseline salivary cortisol levels during the light period than HR pigs. However, HR and LR gilts did not differ in weight gain, aggression, and heart rate response to afternoon feeding. This study indicates that when breeding gilts are kept in groups containing both HR and LR animals, aggression and heart rate reactivity under undisturbed conditions do not relate to the backtest response.

Date 2002
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 77
Issue 1
Pages 43-52
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(02)00024-2
Language English
Author Address Human and Animal Physiology Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal physiology
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Cortisol
  6. Gilts
  7. Heart rate
  8. Hydrocortisone
  9. Liveweight gains
  10. Mammals
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. physiology
  13. piggeries
  14. pig housing
  15. Pigs
  16. Resistance and Immunity
  17. sties
  18. suckling
  19. Swine
  1. peer-reviewed