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Formation of teat order and estimation of piglets’ distribution along the mammary complex using mid-domain effect (MDE) model

By Janko Skok, Dejan Škorjanc

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Abstract

Domestic piglets (Sus scrofa domesticus) establish relatively stable teat order after the first week postpartum. Formation of teat order is normally accompanied by intense competition between littermates. In this period, piglets’ behaviour and their distribution along the mammary complex is subject to various external influences. In the present study, time-dependent changes of suckling pattern in domestic piglets and the potential factors affecting piglets’ suckling distribution along the mammary complex were investigated. Eleven sows with their litters (110 piglets) were included in the analysis. Throughout the lactation period there were 27 observations per litter. In addition to milk intake and piglet body weight we focused on the impact of geometric constraints (physical limitation of the mammary complex), which has previously been disregarded in studies of piglet suckling behaviour but could play a crucial role, especially at the beginning of the lactation period. Changes in piglets’ distribution were analysed for correlation with changes in milk intake and body weight during lactation. The impact of geometric constraints was estimated using mid-domain effect (MDE) models. Analysis of the first two-weeks of lactation revealed that teat order stability increased after the first week, reaching a transition maximum by the second week (58%), when the effect of geometric constraints was still significant (r2=0.679; p0.05). Variation in milk intake was explained by piglet body weight (r2=0.701; p

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 144
Issue 1
Pages 39-45
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2012.11.014
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Tags
  1. Pigs
  2. suckling
  3. teats