The effect of intermittent electroshock and individual vs. pair housing on sexual proceptive behaviour was studied in 48 large White x Danish Landrace gilts. In addition, the effect of intermittent electroshock on the behavioural response to boar stimulation and on sexual receptivity during first oestrus was studied in pair-housed gilts. From 115 to 168 days of age, 24 female pigs were subjected to inescapable electroshocks administered 0-5 times daily between 08.00 and 16.00 h, and 24 female pigs received no shock treatment (control). At 168 days of age all gilts were given 30 min full boar contact. Immediately after the initial boar contact the gilts were assigned to either pair-housing (12 control and 12 electroshocked gilts) or individual housing (12 control and 12 electroshocked gilts). Oestrus detection was carried out twice daily from then on. Behaviour in the home pen was observed in all gilts during the first and second days of the first oestrus and during 2 days 5-8 days after oestrus. The behavioural response to boar stimulation and sexual receptivity were observed in the 24 pair-housed gilts in 5 min tests carried out the day after the initial boar contact and during the first day of oestrus respectively. Intermittent inescapable electroshocks had no effect on the behavioural response to boar stimulation or on sexual receptivity and proceptive behaviour in the home pen. Irrespective of stress treatment, gilts that reacted less fearfully towards boar stimulation responded more often by attaining puberty within 10 days than gilts that responded more fearfully. Individually housed gilts were more restless during oestrus and more responsive to novel stimuli and their surroundings, compared with pair-housed gilts, which showed little increase in restlessness or social activity during the observation period. This may be important for the ease of oestrus detection as well as for behavioural indicators that could be used for heat detection.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||National Institute of Animal Science, Research Centre Foulum, Department of Research in Pigs and Horses, P.O. Box 39, 8830, Tjele, Denmark.|
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