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Nest-building in sows: Effects of farrowing housing on hormonal modulation of maternal characteristics

By Jinhyeon Yun, Kirsi-Marja Swan, Kirsi Vienola, Chantal Farmer, Claudio Oliviero, Olli Peltoniemi, Anna Valros

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Abstract

Prepartum nesting opportunities may improve maternal characteristics and welfare of sows during parturition and lactation. We investigated the effects of provision of space and nesting material prior to parturition on circulating oxytocin concentrations, maternal characteristics and their interrelation in early lactating sows. A total of 33 sows were kept in: 1) CRATE: the farrowing crate closed (210×80cm) with provision of a bucketful of sawdust, 2) PEN: the farrowing crate opened with provision of a bucketful of sawdust, 3) NEST: the farrowing crate opened with provision of abundant nest-building materials. Sow blood samples were collected for hormonal assays via indwelling ear vein catheters on days −3, −2, −1, +1, +2, +4, and +7 from parturition, twice a day. Pigs were video-recorded for 24h on days 3 and 6 of lactation to assess nursing and maternal behaviour. During the periods from days −3 to −1 and from days −3 to +7, NEST brought about an increase in sow oxytocin concentrations compared with CRATE and PEN (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 148
Issue 1
Pages 77-84
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.07.010
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Tags
  1. Animal welfare
  2. Maternal behavior
  3. nests
  4. nursing
  5. Oxytocin
  6. prolactin