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Aggressive behaviour at regrouping is a poor predictor of chronic aggression in stable social groups

By Simon P. Turner, Ian M. Nevison, Suzanne Desire, Irene Camerlink, Rainer Roehe, Sarah H. Ison, Marianne Farish, Mhairi C. Jack, Richard B. D’Eath

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Abstract

Commercial pigs globally are routinely mixed into new social groups. This results in regrouping aggression predominantly during the first 24h which compromises welfare and productivity. Chronic aggression persists thereafter and is also undesirable. Management strategies are needed that reduce the costs of aggression in both of these contexts. Pigs vary greatly in aggressive behaviour and numbers of skin lesions. This study examined how regrouping behaviour affects immediate and long-term lesion counts with a specific focus on understanding the behaviour of pigs with few lesions in both social contexts. Aggressive behaviour from 1163 growing pigs was observed for 24h post-regrouping and fresh lesions were counted 24h and 3weeks post-regrouping. Similarity between pigs was calculated using all behavioural traits recorded during the 24h post-regrouping. Clusters of pigs were formed using furthest neighbour clustering with a stopping rule of 80% similarity. Five clusters of pigs representing 90% of the population (1047 pigs) were identified. For each regrouping aggressive behaviour trait and for fresh lesion counts 24h post-regrouping the means differed significantly (P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 191
Pages 98-106
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.02.002
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Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Cluster analysis
  3. Fighting
  4. Lesions
  5. Pigs
  6. sociability