Peri-parturient changes in behaviour in free-ranging domestic pigs

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Hygiene, Section of Animal Behaviour, P.O.B. 345, S-532 00 Skara, Sweden
Applied Animal Behaviour Science (Impact Factor: 1.63). 04/1987; 17:69-76. DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(87)90009-8

ABSTRACT The behaviour of 6 Swedish Landrace gilts in enclosures of 7 and 13 ha was studied for 7 h per day during 7 days around farrowing time. A significant increase in the frequency of locomotion was recorded 2 days before farrowing. The distances walked, as measured by number of coordinates crossed per day, increased during the same period. Average distances to nearest neighbours increased significantly 1 day before farrowing. The farrowing nests, which were built on the day before farrowing or on the farrowing day, were all situated well away from the normal home range. It is suggested that the motivation for this increase in mobility, with the apparent function to isolate the nest site from the rest of the herd, is the explanation of the increse in activity frequently recorded in sows in pens during the days before farrowing. The functional significance and the practical consequences of these behaviour patterns are discussed.

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    ABSTRACT: The success of pens which provide pigs with a bedded resting area and an area for feeding, elimination and other activities depends on pigs' ability to show discrimination in elimination behaviour and thereby keep the resting area dry and clean. The eliminative behaviour of 16 gilts was studied during the last day of gestation when motivation for prepartum nest-building was high. During gestation the gilts had been housed in stalls (n=8) or in pens (n=8). Before parturition the animals were moved to farrowing pens with a peat and straw bedded resting area and a solid floor activity area. The gilts urinated and defecated significantly more in the activity area than in the resting area (P<0.001). However, significantly more gilts which had previously been stalled defecated in the resting area than gilts which had never been confined (P<0.05). Thus, previous housing experience may influence patterns of elimination in pigs.
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