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Intrauterine position effects in female swine: subsequent reproductive performance, and social and sexual behavior

By K. A. P. Parfet, V. K. Ganjam, W. R. Lamberson, A. R. Rieke, F. S. vom Saal, B. N. Day

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The sex of adjacent fetuses has been shown to affect the subsequent behaviour and reproductive performance of rodents. In the present study, sows were slaughtered at day 112 of gestation, and piglets were delivered manually. The piglets' uterine position was recorded as between 2 [female][female] (0M, n = 16), between a [male] and a [female] (1M, n = 25) or between 2 [male][male] (2M, n = 17). Females were reared in mixed-sex littermate groups until 120 days of age, and thereafter in single-sex groups of 6. Females were checked twice daily for oestrus using a mature boar, beginning on day 175. 2M [female][female] tended (P<0.15) to reach puberty sooner (187 days) than 0M (192 days) and 1 M [female][female] (194 days). The length of the oestrous cycle and ovulation rate did not differ among groups over the first 3 oestrous cycles. Duration of receptivity was similar among groups until the 3rd oestrus, when the duration of standing heat was shorter for 2M [female][female] in the presence (2.8, 2.7 and 2.1 days for 0M, 1M and 2M resp.; P<0.10) and the absence of the [male] (2.1, 1.3 and 0.9 days; P<0.01). 0M [female][female] received the fewest mounts from pen mates (P<0.01), but mounted most often. There were no differences due to intra-uterine position in the frequency of anogenital sniffing or rooting the sides of pen mates. The frequency of agonistic activity was similar among groups; however, 0M [female][female] participated in fewer fights ( chi superscript 2 = 5.2; P<0.10) and won fewer than expected by chance (0/5; chi superscript 2 = 6.0; P<0.05). Eight 0M, five 1M and seven 2gilts were ovariectomised and treated with oestradiol benzoate. In the boar's absence, the proportion of [female][female] showing a positive response to back pressure was higher, and the duration of this response was longer, for 2M [female][female] (P<0.005). Relative attractivity was tested by allowing the boar simultaneous access to a 0M and 2M gilt: when matched for stage of receptivity, 0M and 2M gilts were equally attractive. The results indicate that prenatal intrauterine position has little effect on adult agonistic behaviour, length of the oestrous cycle and ovulation rate, but may affect the sexual behaviour of [female] pigs.

Date 1990
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 26
Issue 4
Pages 349-362
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal reproduction
  3. Breeding
  4. Estrous cycle
  5. Females
  6. Fetus
  7. Mammals
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. position
  10. prenatal period
  11. Reproduction
  12. Sexual behavior
  13. sexuality
  14. Sexual practices
  15. Swine
  16. uterus
  1. peer-reviewed