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Behaviour of pre-pubertal gilts and its relationship to farrowing behaviour in conventional farrowing crates and loose-housed pens

By S. H. Ison, C. M. Wood, E. M. Baxter

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Abstract

Individual variation in the reproductive performance of sows has the potential for greater negative impacts in loose-farrowing systems. Therefore, the ability to select gilts that will perform well would be a major advantage. This study investigated the behaviour of gilts during pre-pubertal tests and farrowing behaviour in conventional crates and PigSAFE (Piglet and Sow Alternative Farrowing Environment) pens. Gilts underwent two phases of behavioural testing. First, gilts were subjected to three individual human interaction and three startle object tests randomly allocated to test sessions over 3 days (i.e. gilts had either a human or startle test first). Three weeks later, gilts underwent three human interaction and three novel object tests, in their stable group of six. Gilts farrowed in individual PigSAFE pens or conventional crates and behaviour was observed for 8 h from the first piglet birth. Data were analysed using linear mixed models and Spearman's rank correlations. A novel finding was the effect of individual test order: gilts that had the human interaction or startle object test first behaved differently. The first test was different whichever test type, with a higher latency to interact with the object or human, and gilts experiencing the startle test first interacted more with the human in all three subsequent tests. Gilts farrowing in crates and pens showed differences in behaviour, most notably, a lower frequency of piglet-directed aggression was seen in pens ( P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 170
Pages 26-33
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.06.004
Language English
Author Address Scotland's Rural College (SRUC), Animal Behaviour & Welfare, Animal & Veterinary Sciences Group, Roslin Institute Building, Easter Bush, Midlothian EH25 9RG, UK.Sarah.Ison@sruc.ac.uk
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Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Aggressive behavior
  3. Animal behavior
  4. Animals
  5. Effect
  6. Farrowing
  7. Gilts
  8. Mammals
  9. Maternal behavior
  10. models
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. pens
  13. performance traits
  14. Pigs
  15. Reproduction
  16. sows
  17. Suiformes
  18. temperament
  19. trauma
  20. ungulates
  21. variation
  22. vertebrates
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed