Article

Nest-building behaviour in sows and consequences for pig husbandry

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Abstract

Patterns of maternal behaviour are strongly related to reproductive abilities in sows. Prepartal behaviour of sows is mainly characterised by nest-building activities, resulting in a nest that provides shelter for the piglets. In the course of domestication, sows have not lost their instinctive behaviour to nest-build, but perform at least elements of it when appropriate space and materials are available. The onset and performance of nest-building is both stimulated internally via hormones and externally via feedback from the environment. With this environmental influence, the possibilities to perform nest-building can be restricted to different extents in commercially farmed pigs. The aim of the present review is to point out the sow's need for nest-building performance as part of the natural behaviour pattern, although they are kept in different modern housing systems. With regard to increased demands for animal welfare and following changes in the legislation for pig husbandry, possible consequences for different housing systems are discussed.

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... Na moderna produção intensiva de suínos, a falha em fornecer substrato é outro problema capaz de afetar de forma negativa o bem-estar da matriz suína na maternidade (DIAS et al., 2015), além de espaço suficiente (WISCHNER et al., 2009) para satisfazer seu comportamento inato de construção do ninho para o parto (DIAS et al., 2015). Apesar do alto grau de domesticação da fêmea suína, a motivação para expressar esse comportamento sugere que ele possui algum significado biológico e é necessário ao animal (BAXTER et al., 2011;SILVA et al., 2016). ...
... Apesar do alto grau de domesticação da fêmea suína, a motivação para expressar esse comportamento sugere que ele possui algum significado biológico e é necessário ao animal (BAXTER et al., 2011;SILVA et al., 2016). Na impossibilidade de construir adequadamente o ninho, a matriz irá redirecionar o comportamento para a baia ou para a cela, resultando em estereotipias, estresse e prejuízo do desempenho reprodutivo (WISCHNER et al., 2009). ...
... Nesse sentido, sistemas que alojam as matrizes sobre cama sobreposta na maternidade são boas alternativas para a melhora da saúde e bem-estar dos animais (WISCHNER et al., 2009). Porém, enquanto esses sistemas não se tornam viáveis e o espaço destinado à matriz não seja suficiente para a construção do ninho, recomenda-se que os produtores forneçam, ao menos, material que possa ser adequado ao conforto da matriz (ex. ...
... Nest-building behaviour of the prepartum sow is a well-known intrinsic behavioural pattern, expressed as rooting, pawing, and foraging [24,25]. In normal conditions, the sow performs nestbuilding activity starting from the last 24 hours and peaking between the last 6 and 12 hours before farrowing (Fig. 2) [24,26,27]. ...
... Nest-building behaviour of the prepartum sow is a well-known intrinsic behavioural pattern, expressed as rooting, pawing, and foraging [24,25]. In normal conditions, the sow performs nestbuilding activity starting from the last 24 hours and peaking between the last 6 and 12 hours before farrowing (Fig. 2) [24,26,27]. This natural behaviour is triggered by endogenous hormonal changes, including a decrease in progesterone and a rise in prolactin and prostaglandin F2α levels. ...
... However, due to lack of space, substrates, or both in modern intensive husbandry, sows are likely to have difficulties in performing movements related to nest building. The restriction of nest-building expression adversely affects parturition and lactation performance and sow welfare [24][25][26]. ...
Article
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A number of management issues can be used as drivers for change in order to improve animal welfare and nursing capacity of the hyperprolific sow. Group housing of sows during gestation is a recommended practice from the perspective of animal welfare. Related health issues include reproductive health and the locomotor system. It appears that management of pregnant sows in groups is challenging for a producer and considerable skill is required. We explored the benefits and challenges of group housing, including feeding issues. Increasing litter size requires additional attention to the mammary gland and its ability to provide sufficient nursing for the growing litter. We discuss the fundamentals of mammary development and the specific challenges related to the hyperprolific sow. We also address challenges with the farrowing environment. It appears that the old-fashioned farrowing crate is not only outdated in terms of welfare from the public’s perspective, but also fails to provide the environment that the sow needs to support her physiology of farrowing, nursing, and maternal behaviour. Studies from our group and others indicate that providing the sow with a loose housing system adequate in space and nesting material, along with reasonable chance for isolation, can be considered as fundamental for successful farrowing of the hyperprolific sow. It has also been shown that management strategies, such as split suckling and cross fostering, are necessary to ensure proper colostrum intake for all piglets born alive in a large litter. We thus conclude that welfare and nursing capacity of the sow can be improved by management. However, current megatrends such as the climate change may change sow management and force the industry to rethink goals of breeding and, for instance, breeding for better resilience may need to be included as goals for the future.
... Regarding the sows, for instance, nest building behaviour prior to farrowing is restricted by a lack of space and suitable nesting material (Andersen et al., 2014;Yun et al., 2014a). Domestication has not eliminated the motivation to build a nest (Gustafsson et al., 1999) and crated sows may show behaviours such as teeth grinding, biting of pen fixtures, and frequent postural changes in response to thwarted nest building behaviour (Wischner et al., 2009;Andersen et al., 2014;. Due to a lack of feedback from completing a suitable nest, these restless behaviours may continue during the farrowing process. ...
... Due to a lack of feedback from completing a suitable nest, these restless behaviours may continue during the farrowing process. Mediated by hormonal alterations, restricting the expression of nest building behaviour may result in a prolonged parturition and a negative impact on piglets' colostrum intake and sows' maternal behaviour, resulting in e.g. less careful lying down behaviour (Wischner et al., 2009;Yun et al., 2014a;Yun et al., 2014b;. Altogether, this can jeopardise piglet survival. ...
... In contrast, in conventional farrowing systems, sows have limited possibilities to express nest building behaviour due to insufficient space to turn around and a lack of suitable nesting material. Domestication has not eliminated the need to perform nest building behaviour (Gustafsson et al., 1999) and restricting this behaviour can impair sow welfare, maternal behaviour, and piglet survival (Wischner et al., 2009;. Moreover, expression of maternal behaviour is also restricted in a conventional system during subsequent lactation, as free interaction between the sow and her litter is prevented. ...
... Moreover, sows' behavior towards humans is essential when the sows are not fixated [11]. Maternal characteristics, also related to the expression of natural behavioral needs (e.g., nest building behavior), are important in terms of piglet mortality [12,13]. Furthermore, studies with various behavior tests showed the possibility of classifying maternal care. ...
... While the activity itself is not essential to assessing the sow's suitability for loose-housing systems, the degree of nest building behavior can hint at her willingness to accept provided material and her motivation to perform such behavior. It was shown that sows with pronounced nest building behavior had less complication at parturition, and fewer stillborn piglets in the litter [13]. No reduction in nest building behavior was observed when sows were offered a pre-constructed nest, which indicates that the building activity itself is a behavioral need of the prepartal sow [20]. ...
... In the present study, most prepartal sows showed a high interest in the offered nesting material (gunnysacks). Without appropriate building material, sows try to perform nest building behavior using crate equipment, leading to frustration and even decreased reproductive performance [13]. If enough material is offered, increased motivation and nest building activity is reported [21]. ...
Article
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The objective of the study was to evaluate behavioral observation procedures and tests to characterize sows’ behavior for their suitability for free farrowing systems. Nest building activity (NB), lying-down behavior (LDB), and position after lying down (PLD) were assessed. Four tests were designed to characterize the reaction of sows to a novel object and an unexpected situation (Towel Test, TT), behavior towards humans (Dummy Arm Test, DAT; Trough Cleaning Test, TCT), and behavior towards piglets (Reunion Test, RT). The study was performed on a nucleus farm in 37 batches including 771 purebred landrace sows housed in farrowing pens with short-term fixation. The assessment of NB started 2 days before the expected date of the farrowing. In 56.2% of the observations, the sows showed increased chewing activity on gunnysacks. The LDB and PLD were assessed on days 3 and 19 post partum (p.p.). In 49.1% of the observations, sows showed careful lying-down behavior. In 50.1% of cases, sows preferred the stomach-teats-position when lying down. With the DAT on day 4 p.p., in 89.3% of observations, no or only slight reactions of the sow were documented. The TT and TCT were performed on days 3 and 10 p.p. Strong defensive reactions of animals towards humans were recorded in 4.5% of the observations in the TT, and in 4.0% of the observations in the TCT. In the RT on day 3 p.p., in 61.8%, a joyful response of the sows to the reunion with their piglets was observed. This study showed that the behavioral observation procedures and designed tests are suitable to characterize sows’ behavior towards humans and piglets with regard to traits that are particularly important in systems without fixation.
... Apesar do alto grau de domesticação da fêmea suína, a motivação para expressar esse comportamento sugere que ele possui algum significado biológico e é necessário ao animal SILVA et al., 2016). Na impossibilidade de construir adequadamente o ninho, a matriz irá redirecionar o comportamento para a baia ou para a cela, resultando em estereotipias, estresse e prejuízo do desempenho reprodutivo (WISCHNER et al., 2009). ...
... Nesse sentido, sistemas que alojam as matrizes sobre cama sobreposta na maternidade são boas alternativas para a melhora da saúde e bem-estar dos animais (WISCHNER et al., 2009). Porém, enquanto esses sistemas não se tornam viáveis e o espaço destinado à matriz não seja suficiente para a construção do ninho, recomenda-se que os produtores forneçam, ao menos, material que possa ser adequado ao conforto da matriz (ex. ...
... Porém, enquanto esses sistemas não se tornam viáveis e o espaço destinado à matriz não seja suficiente para a construção do ninho, recomenda-se que os produtores forneçam, ao menos, material que possa ser adequado ao conforto da matriz (ex. palha, serragem) no ambiente onde ela esteja alojada (ver Figura 10 a seguir) (WISCHNER et al., 2009). Embora na União Europeia a legislação oriente o uso de substrato, não há uma menção clara da quantidade de material e do espaço necessários para a construção do ninho . ...
... For sows housed without the ability to move around or without access to nesting materials, their first experience with farrowing may be accompanied with undesirable side-effects, including altered maternal behaviors (e.g., piglet savaging, lower responsivity to piglet calls, shorter suckling periods, and psychological stress) [86]. Furthermore, the implementation of EU Directive 201/88/EC that requires sows to be loose-housed during the majority of gestation and allowing them to be subsequently transferred to farrowing crates may cause the sow to experience additional physiological and psychological stressors immediately prior to parturition due to the drastic restriction of space and mobility [86] during a time in which they are highly motivated to roam and nest build. ...
... For sows housed without the ability to move around or without access to nesting materials, their first experience with farrowing may be accompanied with undesirable side-effects, including altered maternal behaviors (e.g., piglet savaging, lower responsivity to piglet calls, shorter suckling periods, and psychological stress) [86]. Furthermore, the implementation of EU Directive 201/88/EC that requires sows to be loose-housed during the majority of gestation and allowing them to be subsequently transferred to farrowing crates may cause the sow to experience additional physiological and psychological stressors immediately prior to parturition due to the drastic restriction of space and mobility [86] during a time in which they are highly motivated to roam and nest build. While this may be an intuitive response when evaluating sow behavioral biology, research into the impact of farrowing systems on piglet mortality illustrate that piglet mortality is lower in farrowing crates compared to free farrowing systems [87] and in sows that are confined for four days post-farrowing [88]. ...
Article
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Pregnancy and parturition in all mammals is accompanied with physical, psychological, social, and hormonal shifts that impact the mother physically and psychologically. Pre-weaning piglet mortality continues to be a major welfare and economic issue in U.S. swine production, running at 12–15% with crushing by the sow the major cause. Much research has focused on farrowing environment design, yet the fact that little progress has been made emphasizes that psychosocial factors may impact rates of postpartum disorders (PPD). There is a mismatch between evolved adaptations and contemporary psychosocial and management practices. Many factors associated with the development of PPD in humans are mirrored in sows that perform piglet crushing. These factors include poor mental welfare (anxiety, difficulty coping with stress), a lack of experience, a lack of social support, and individual differences in their sensitivity to hormone concentrations. Understanding what strategies are effective in preventing PPD in humans may have welfare and production benefits for sows—and sows may be a possible model for better understanding PPD in humans.
... Warburton and Mason, 2003;Patterson-Kane et al., 2008;Elmore et al., 2012). These studies show that crated sows show a peak in cortisol levels concurrent with attempts to nest build whilst such a hormonal response is less evident in sows given basic substrates and freedom to turn around (Jarvis et al., 2002;Wischner et al., 2009). Operant conditioning tasks show that a sow's motivation for access to nest building material approaches that of access to food as farrowing approaches (Arey, 1992 ; Fig. 7). ...
... It may also be argued that nest building is not entirely functionless in commercial production. Preventing the execution of this behaviour could contribute to the maternal infanticide ('savaging') seen typically by first-time mothers (gilts) in commercial production but not in the wild (Jarvis et al., 2004;Wischner et al., 2009). The behaviour may be a reflection of a general state of excitability (Ison et al., 2015) and could be exacerbated if the normal sequence of maternal behaviours is prevented. ...
Chapter
The behavioural patterns of domesticated pigs are well conserved from their ancestors. This suggests that the underlying motivational systems are similar to those of wild boar and feral domestic populations. This chapter describes how commercial conditions, whilst providing some welfare benefits, can constrain behavioural expression. The chapter reviews the behavioural ecology of pigs, introduces the concept of behavioural needs and considers the developmental and additive genetic basis behind individual differences in behaviour. It looks ahead to future trends in research in this area and provides suggestions for extensive further reading on the subject.
... In natural environments, pre-parturient sows seek a secluded site where they dig a depression in the earth. They then vigorously gather plant materials, which they carry to this nest site (see Fig. 2.14) and manipulate with their snouts to con- struct a soft bed (Wischner et al., 2009). Little work seems to have been conducted on sows' motivations to have particular types of nest site (unlike hens, as dis- cussed below), but much has examined the motivations to obtain nesting material and the effects of a lack of nesting material on frustration-related variables. ...
... Sows will perform operant responses to collect straw, espe- cially as parturition approaches (Arey, 1992), although their interest seems to vary between studies: in some, all sows offered a straw dispenser used it (Arey et al., 1991), while in others, only some did (Hutson, 1988;Widowski and Curtis, 1990). Furthermore, a lack of nesting material seems frustrating, for instance indu- cing restless, stereotyped rooting and ground pawing (Wischner et al., 2009), although, again, studies vary. Some experiments compare smaller bare crates with larger strawed pens, so examining the effects of sub- strate and enclosure size combined: the crates tend to elevate pre-parturient females' cortisol levels and pro- long the process of parturition ( Jarvis et al., 1997Jarvis et al., , 2001Oliviero et al., 2008). ...
Chapter
Captivity often restricts animals' abilities to perform natural behaviour and explore novel stimuli. Here, we review how this constraint affects psychological welfare by preventing the meeting of motivations. One means by which this happens is through frustrating specific motivations pertaining to particular behavioural systems. This can occur when constrained behaviours are 'behavioural needs': activities that animals have instincts to perform even in environments where they are not biologically necessary for fitness (e.g. non-nutritive sucking by calves, social interactions for many species). It can also occur when deficits or external cues in the environment leave certain motivations unsatisfied; this causes behaviour that could, under other circumstances, help rectify the problem, but which remains futile in the impoverished environment (e.g. the lack of burrow-like structures, triggering persistent digging in gerbils). Furthermore, given that humans suffer boredom in monotonous conditions resembling many captive animals' environments, and given that many animals actively seek diverse stimulation, it also seems likely that welfare in some species can be harmed by thwarting animals' general motivations to seek variety and/or to avoid monotony, causing boredom.
... Once the nest has been built, the farrowing can start. The expression of this behavior to protect the litter from environmental conditions and potential predators [156], has been related with shorter farrowing, better nursing, enhanced maternal behaviors, more colostrum, higher fertility rate, less stillbirth, and healthier and larger litters [127]. Conversely, sows managed in farrowing crates cannot display this behavior. ...
... This system permits the display of maternal behavior and to strengthen the mother-piglet bonds, favoring a better early lactation [161]. Sows unable to express this normal behavior due to confinement or to the lack of nesting materials will become stressed, which in turn will affect their welfare and that of their piglets [4,103,156]. Furthermore, these sows show greater indifference to the calls of the piglets and a more marked tendency to display aggressive behavior toward them [2] and other abnormal behaviors, such as bar biting, trough-biting, vacuum chewing, and excessive drinking [1]. ...
Article
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A review of published literature was conducted to identify pasture pig production system features that pose risks to animal welfare, and to develop recommendations aimed at improving the wellbeing of the animals managed in those systems. Pasture pig production systems present specific challenges to animal welfare that are inherent to the nature of these systems where producers have little room to make improvements. However, these systems present other challenges that could be reduced with a carefully designed system, by adopting appropriate management strategies and by avoiding management practices that are likely to negatively affect animal wellbeing. In pasture pig production systems, exposure to extreme temperatures, potential contact with wildlife and pathogens (especially parasites), vulnerability to predators, risk of malnutrition, pre-weaning piglet mortality, complexity of processes for monitoring and treating sick animals, and for cleaning and disinfection of facilities and equipment are among the main threats to animal welfare.
... Therefore, prevention of these natural behavioural patterns before, during and after farrowing due to the short-term fixation might limit the development of maternal behaviour. Furthermore, several studies have shown that the demand for nest-building cannot be satisfied when the sows are fixated in a farrowing crate ante partum (Baxter et al., 2011;Wischner et al., 2009). In addition, different studies have shown that nest-building can have an effect on the maternal behaviour after birth (Herskin et al., 1998;Wischner et al., 2009). ...
... Furthermore, several studies have shown that the demand for nest-building cannot be satisfied when the sows are fixated in a farrowing crate ante partum (Baxter et al., 2011;Wischner et al., 2009). In addition, different studies have shown that nest-building can have an effect on the maternal behaviour after birth (Herskin et al., 1998;Wischner et al., 2009). Herskin et al. (1998) reported fewer postural changes in the first 24 h post partum and faster reactions to piglet distress calls, which both can have a positive effect on piglet mortality. ...
Article
In the present study two farrowing pens with movable crates were tested as two different farrowing systems (with short-term fixation and without) regarding reproductive traits in two parts. The aim of Part 1 was to compare the reproductive traits of sows housed in the farrowing pens without fixation of the sows (FF, free-farrowing system; n = 121) and sows housed in farrowing crates with permanent fixation (FC, farrowing crate system; n = 127). Part 2 compares the reproductive traits of sows housed in the same farrowing pens as in Part 1 but used with a short-term fixation in which the sows were fixated in the movable crates from one day ante partum until four days post partum (SF, short-term fixation system; n = 47) and sows housed in farrowing crates with permanent fixation (FC; n = 79). The number of piglets born alive, stillborn piglets, weaned piglets and piglet losses were recorded. Additionally, the individual birth and weaning weights of all piglets were documented. The results of Part 1 (FF vs. FC) show that sows of the FF system had significantly higher total piglet losses and a higher number of crushed piglets compared to sows of the FC system (p < 0.05). Furthermore, 88% of all piglet losses were documented during the first four days post partum. The total piglet losses in Part 2 (SF vs. FC) did not differ between the SF system and the FC system. The results of the present study show that sows of the fee-farrowing system had higher piglet losses compared to sows in farrowing crate system with permanent fixation. However, a fixation of the sows for only one day ante partum until four days post partum showed no differences in the piglet losses compared to sows fixed permanently in crates. It can be concluded that a short-term fixation of sows in crates of four days is sufficient to minimise piglet losses.
... In freerange or semi-natural conditions, pregnant sows will self-isolate a few days prior to farrowing and engage in intensive nestbuilding activity until just prior to farrowing (Jensen, 1986;Stolba and Wood-Gush, 1989). Despite there being no functional need for nest building in intensive systems which are thermally neutral and free of predators, domestic sows remain highly motivated to perform this behaviour (Špinka, 2017), as evidenced by increased activity, rooting and pawing at floors, and mouthing of pipes and waterers prior to farrowing (Wischner et al., 2009). Thwarted nest-building activity in preparturient gilts has been associated with acute stress hormone secretion (Jarvis et al., 1998;Yun and Valros, 2015). ...
... There is evidence that nest building may also benefit piglet welfare through improved sow-piglet interactions and reduced piglet mortality (Jarvis et al., 1998;Oliviero et al., 2010;Yun and Valros, 2015). Housing sows in pens with straw i.e., providing both space and substrate for nesting, has the greatest potential to improve sow welfare, although there is evidence that either increased space or provision of straw alone may positively benefit welfare (Wischner et al., 2009). ...
Article
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Public concern for the welfare of farm animals has increased over recent years. Meeting public demands for higher animal welfare products requires robust animal welfare assessment tools that enable the user to identify areas of potential welfare compromise and enhancement. The Five Domains model is a structured, systematic, and comprehensive framework for assessing welfare risks and enhancement in sentient animals. Since its inception in 1994, the model has undergone regular updates to incorporate advances in animal welfare understanding and scientific knowledge. The model consists of five areas, or domains, that focus attention on specific factors or conditions that may impact on an animal’s welfare. These include four physical/functional domains: nutrition, physical environment, health, and behavioural interactions, and a fifth mental or affective state domain. The first three domains draw attention to welfare-significant internal physical/functional states within the animal, whereas the fourth deals with welfare-relevant features of the animal’s external physical and social environment. Initially named “Behaviour” Domain 4 was renamed “Behavioural Interactions” in the 2020 iteration of the model and was expanded to include three categories: interactions with the environment, interactions with other animals and interactions with humans. These explicitly focus attention on environmental and social circumstances that may influence the animal’s ability to exercise agency, an important determinant of welfare. Once factors in Domains 1–4 have been considered, the likely consequences, in terms of the animal’s subjective experiences, are assigned to Domain 5 (affective state). The integrated outcome of all negative and positive mental experiences accumulated in Domain 5 represents the animal’s current welfare state. Because the model specifically draws attention to conditions that may positively influence welfare, it provides a useful framework for identifying opportunities to promote positive welfare in intensively farmed animals. When negative affective experiences are minimised, providing animals with the opportunity to engage in species-specific rewarding behaviours may shift them into an overall positive welfare state. In domestic pigs, providing opportunities for foraging, play, and nest building, along with improving the quality of pig-human interactions, has the potential to promote positive welfare.
... The substrate used to provide nest-building material has been the subject of a number of studies. The general consensus appears to be that substrates such as straw and wood shavings, provided either separately or in conjunction with branches, are the most relevant (Wischner et al., 2009a). Specifically, these substrates appear the most effective in terms of stimulating nest-building behaviours as well as the endocrine changes required to reduce postural changes during piglet expulsion, reduce the duration of farrowing and promote positive maternal behaviours (Jensen, 1993;Thodberg et al., 1999a). ...
... Based on the available data, it is evident that providing sows with suitable nest-building materials prior to farrowing can be beneficial for the sow's welfare, behavioural expression and potentially piglet survival (Wischner et al., 2009a). However, it remains to be established whether man-made materials, which don't block effluent drains, can be used in substitute of natural materials such as straw, shavings and branches. ...
Article
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Sows are strongly driven to build a nest prior to farrowing, and the performance of this behaviour is linked to the environment in which the animal is housed. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of two nest-building materials, hessian and straw, on peri-parturient sow behaviour, plasma cortisol concentration and piglet survival and performance in farrowing crates. In the first experiment, sows (parity 1.7 ± 0.1) were allocated to four treatments: (n = 15), straw provided in the lead up to farrowing in an open farrowing pen, with the pen closed after farrowing (STRAW OPEN); (n = 14), straw provided in the lead up to farrowing in a closed farrowing pen (STRAW CLOSED); (n = 15), a closed farrowing pen with hessian sacks provided in the lead up to farrowing (HESSIAN) and; (n = 13), a closed farrowing pen with no nesting materials provided (CONTROL). A second experiment was performed on a separate farm to assess the effect of the same four treatments were applied to sows (parity 2.9 ± 0.1): SRAW OPEN (n = 68), STRAW CLOSED (n = 64), HESSIAN (n = 66) and CONTROL (n = 66), at a commercial level. The first experiment revealed that providing conventionally housed sows with straw or hessian in the lead up to parturition stimulated sows to perform nest-building behaviours similar to sows housed in an open pen with access to straw (nosing events; 16 ± 11 (CONTROL); 169 ± 36 (HESSIAN); 118 ± 29 (STRAW CLOSED); 199 ± 53 (STRAW OPEN); P
... The intense nest-building behavior occurring 6 to 12 h prior to farrowing (Wischner et al., 2009) is energy demanding because of high locomotory activity where the energy is being oxidized and CO 2 released. Heat production is roughly doubled when sows are in standing posture as compared with lying (Theil, 2002), and Noblet et al. (1993) reported that the energetic costs associated with standing activity amount to 0.37 MJ per kg 0.75 per day or almost as high as the maintenance requirement (0.46 MJ per kg 0.75 per day). ...
... In the present study sows housed within CLOSED crates spent a greater amount of time nosing crate fixtures during parturition, when compared with those housed in OPEN pens. This is somewhat different to previous studies who demonstrated that this behaviour primarily occurs in the lead up to farrowing (Wischner et al., 2009;Yun et al., 2014a;Yun and Valros, 2015). Additionally, as no nest building material was given to either treatment group, it would be assumed that both treatments would direct this behaviour towards the crate fixtures regardless of space. ...
Article
To reduce piglet mortality from overlay, farrowing crates confine the sow, restricting nest building activities. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of confinement in the lead up to and during parturition on sow and litter characteristics. Sows (parity 1.6 ± 0.1) were housed in pens the size of a traditional crate with bars that allowed for temporary confinement. Two treatments were applied; OPEN (n = 36): pen was open until the sow stood following parturition, at which point they were closed, and CLOSED (n = 34): pen was closed through parturition. At d 10 of lactation the pens were opened for both treatments. A subset of sows (n = 12 CLOSED, n = 14 OPEN) were observed remotely during parturition and 18 h after parturition for behavioural analyses. Blood samples were collected hourly from −24 h until farrowing completion, and again at 24 h post farrowing. Piglet weights were collected at birth, 24 h and at weaning. OPEN sows displayed a reduced incidence of pain-related behaviours including tail flicks (8.4 ± 0.7 vs 27.6 ± 1.5; P < 0.001), movement of back leg forward (122.0 ± 3.0 vs 163.4 ± 3.7; P < 0.001) and strains (146.1 ± 3.2 vs 182.9 ± 3.9; P < 0.001) during farrowing. OPEN sows also nosed crate fixtures less frequently (4.1 ± 0.4 vs CLOSED 7.3 ± 0.8; P < 0.001) and performed more posture changes (23.2 ± 1.3 vs CLOSED 14.3 ± 1.1; P < 0.001) during farrowing. Confinement of sows did not impact plasma cortisol concentration at any point (P > 0.05). Sows from OPEN pens gave birth to fewer stillborn piglets than CLOSED (0.2 ± 0.1 vs 0.4 ± 0.1 piglets/litter respectively; P < 0.05). Colostrum ingestion was higher in piglets from OPEN sows (332.8 ± 7.8 g) than CLOSED (310.8 ± 7.0 g; P < 0.01). Individual weight at weaning was increased in piglets from OPEN sows (5.9 ± 0.2 kg) when compared with CLOSED (5.7 ± 0.2 kg; P < 0.01). Postnatal mortality did not differ between treatments (P < 0.05). Allowing the sow a greater freedom of movement exclusively in the lead up to and during parturition changes sow behaviour during this time and improves piglet growth whilst maintaining survival rates.
... It is increasingly accepted that, if animals are able to achieve their wants and needs, they will be less stressed, with better welfare, which will lead to more valid, translatable science [1][2][3][4][5]. This is reflected in legislation, e.g., the European Union (EU) Directive regulating the care and use of animals in conditions, e.g., nest building behaviour in sows [22] and exploration behaviour in laboratory rats [23]. In the latter example, laboratory rats released into a semi-wild environment rapidly expressed many wild-type behaviours, and there is convincing evidence that domestication has also left the natural behaviour of mice largely unchanged [16,24]. ...
Article
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It is widely recommended to group-house male laboratory mice because they are 'social animals', but male mice do not naturally share territories and aggression can be a serious welfare problem. Even without aggression, not all animals within a group will be in a state of positive welfare. Rather, many male mice may be negatively affected by the stress of repeated social defeat and subordination, raising concerns about welfare and also research validity. However, individual housing may not be an appropriate solution, given the welfare implications associated with no social contact. An essential question is whether it is in the best welfare interests of male mice to be group- or singly housed. This review explores the likely impacts-positive and negative-of both housing conditions, presents results of a survey of current practice and awareness of mouse behavior, and includes recommendations for good practice and future research. We conclude that whether group- or single-housing is better (or less worse) in any situation is highly context-dependent according to several factors including strain, age, social position, life experiences, and housing and husbandry protocols. It is important to recognise this and evaluate what is preferable from animal welfare and ethical perspectives in each case.
... Although pigs are domesticated and most live indoors sheltered from climatic factors and predators, sows are still motivated to build a nest before farrowing (e.g. Wischner et al., 2009). In a semi-natural environment, the sow leaves the group a day before farrowing to seek a suitable nest site (Jensen, 1986). ...
Article
Domestic sows are still highly motivated to build a nest before farrowing. Many pig houses have slurry systems that do not allow use of long straw or other bulky materials that could block the drains, which provides an incentive to investigate the functionality of finer-grained materials for nest building. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of providing peat or straw on the overall amount of nest-building behaviour, number of different behavioural elements performed during nest building, and behavioural time budget of sows in the nesting period before farrowing. Fifty-four hybrid sows (Norwegian Landrace x Yorkshire) ranging in parity from 1 to 9 (mean ± S.E., 2.9 ± 2.0), of which 16 were gilts, were loose-housed in individual farrowing pens. From two days before expected farrowing until farrowing the sows received nest-building material, with refills if necessary: peat (4 kg, 2 kg refills, n = 18), straw (2 kg, 1 kg refills, n = 17), or served as controls (n = 16). Behaviour in the last 12 h before onset of farrowing was instantaneously scan sampled at 5-min intervals from video recordings of each sow. Sows provided with straw or peat engaged in nest-building behaviour in a higher proportion of scans compared to the sows in the control group (P < 0.001), and the sows in the straw group displayed the highest number of nest-building elements (P < 0.001). Sows in the straw group also lied more (P < 0.001) and performed less stereotypic behaviour (P < 0.001) than sows in the other two groups. Overall, total nest-building behaviour increased to a peak at 6–4 h before farrowing and declined in the final three hours (P < 0.001). The number of different nest-building elements followed the same pattern (P = 0.032). Sows of parity ≥4 (n = 16) exhibited more nest-building behaviour compared to gilts and sows of parity 2–3 (P < 0.001). Our results demonstrate that both straw and peat stimulated more nest building compared to the control condition. However, straw elicited more complex nest-building behaviour, increased lying time and reduced time spent on stereotypies in the 12 h before farrowing, suggesting that straw has a better function as nest-building material than peat.
... From approx. 24 353 h before farrowing endogen stimuli motivates the sow highly for nest building (reviewed by 354Wischner et al., 2009) and sows will nest build intensively until a few hours before farrowing 355 after which she will lie quietly in the nest while giving birth to the piglets(Jensen, 1986; Stolba 356 and Woodgush, 1989; Jensen et al., 1993).357 358 The ability of crated sows to perform nesting behaviour is limited (Hartsock and Barczewski, 359 1997; Jarvis et al., 1997; Jarvis et al., 2001; Damm et al., 2003a). ...
Chapter
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The chapter starts with an overview of common pig production systems across the life cycle of the pig. Thereafter, the welfare legislation setting minimum welfare standards for the production in EU is described. The bulk of the chapter then documents that the majority of the welfare problems still remaining are related to close confinement or lack of space, lack of enrichment and bulky feed, early weaning and breeding for intensive production traits such as high prolificacy of sows. To make progress, there is a strong need for an open-minded and sustained collaboration between animal scientists, environmental scientists, companies that develop equipment for the pig industry as well as stakeholders from both the industry and animal welfare organisations. Important focus areas are mentioned such as a continued development of non-confinement housing systems for sows, development of feed stuff with bulkiness, balancing breeding goals with productivity and welfare, and development of slurry systems that can handle larger amounts of organic materials.
... It is also well known that environmental conditions determine the behavior of sows and piglets in the preweaning period and that an undesirable environment may increase the incidence of agonistic behaviors [45,46]. Prior to farrowing, sows exhibit nest-building behaviors such as foraging, rooting, and pawing [47]. If not provided with appropriate environmental conditions, they will redirect their nesting behaviors to head shaking, sham-chewing, drinker-playing, and drinking excessive amounts of water [48]. ...
Article
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Humans who care for pigs prefer an environment that not only allows the pigs to express their natural behaviors but also limits the development of aggression and stereotypes. Most of the behavioral and health problems encountered by pigs in barren, conventional conditions are solved by alternative housing systems. However, it is not known whether these systems are advantageous in terms of the performance of pigs. In this work, we review the effects of housing systems on pigs’ behaviors and performance, which are among the major indicators of the welfare of these animals. Research results point out that outdoor systems are more ideal for sows and fatteners than buildings. Nonetheless, outdoor housing is associated with two major effects in both groups: increased activity due to environmental exploration and higher space allowance, and increased incidence of injuries compared to indoor systems. Sows are more active when housed in groups, but they experience an increased frequency of injuries. According to the literature, group-housed sows give birth to healthy piglets with good daily weight gains. The difference in the fattening and slaughter performance of pigs raised indoors vs. outdoors remains unclear, and the results reported so far are inconsistent. Outdoor systems seem to be associated with a higher incidence of osteochondrosis and lesions of elbow and hock joints, whereas indoor systems cause a greater degree of body soiling in pigs. Based on the reviewed literature, it may be concluded that outdoor housing helps to solve behavioral issues in pigs but leads to other problems in pig production.
... Low water intake can decrease feed intake and milk production, and thereby piglet growth rate (Kruse et al. 2011). Moreover, provision of nesting material to permit nest building seems to be rare in smallholder systems (Wischner et al. 2009). Nesting can reduce stress in connection with farrowing and can have positive effects on stillbirth rate (Thodberg et al. 2002;Cutler et al. 2006). ...
Article
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This study investigated the effect of providing extra water and nesting material to Moo Lath sows on piglet survival and growth. Three treatments were evaluated in a randomized block design with six sows/treatment. In the Control treatment, sows were not provided with nesting material or extra water apart from that included in the feed (conventional smallholder practice). In treatment NM, nesting material was provided 1–2 days before expected farrowing. In treatment NMW, nesting material as in NM and extra water were provided ad libitum throughout the study. Data on sow feed and water intake, plasma protein concentration (TPP), body weight, and re-mating period, and on litter size, body weight, and survival of piglets, were collected for two reproduction cycles. NMW sows had higher water intake than Control and NM sows (14.7, 4.5, and 4.5 L/day, respectively, SE = 0.2). The weight loss from 2 weeks prior to farrowing until weaning was smaller in NMW than in NM and Control sows (16.0, 23.8, and 22.9 kg, respectively, SE = 0.9). TPP dropped from farrowing until 21 days of lactation in NMW sows, whereas it increased or was unchanged in NM and Control sows. The re-mating period was shorter and the number of litters/year was higher in NMW than in Control and NM sows (2.2, 2.0, and 2.0, respectively, SE = 0.01). Piglet mortality was lower in NMW than in Control and NM (9.5, 43.9, and 26.7%, respectively, SE = 4.9). Piglets in NMW were heavier at weaning and had higher daily weight gain than Control and NM piglets. It was concluded that providing water ad libitum and nesting material improved piglet survival and growth, and that providing water ad libitum improved sow physiological and reproductive fitness. However, provision of nesting material without access to ad libitum water might increase susceptibility to heat stress in sows.
... Nesting behavior is a universal instinct in a variety of animals such as fishes, birds, and mammals such as rodents and pigs with pregnant or reproducing individuals preparing sites for their offspring thereby increasing their reproductive success (González-Mariscal et al. 1996;Hansell 2000;Skolnik 2003;Kustritz 2005;Wischner et al. 2009). However, some animals do not build nests, but transfer such parental care and its cost to other individuals or species. ...
Article
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Diverse nest-building behaviors used for constructing delicate and diverse kinds of nests constitute one of the most impressive and typical traits for birds. However, some bird species do not possess nest-building behavior but lay eggs in nests of other species. Such obligate brood parasites account for only 1% of all bird species in the world, but their extraordinary behavior has resulted in numerous studies. Unlike nesting birds, brood parasites such as cuckoos need to find suitable nests for parasitism rather than suitable habitat for nesting. Previous studies hypothesized that cuckoos may achieve this by imprinting on the habitats or nest sites they have experienced, or on host species by whom they have been reared, or simply by natal philopatry. Here, we test for host recognition mechanisms in a coevolutionary system constituted by the common cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) and its two sympatric hosts Daurian redstart (Phoenicurus auroreus) and Verditer flycatcher (Eumyias thalassinus) that build open cupshaped nests in similar nest sites. Redstarts are partial rejecters of cuckoo eggs and they are parasitized by cuckoos with a parasitism rate of 16.2%, while flycatchers accept cuckoo eggs but no survival of parasite chicks in its nests and also no single case of parasitism was detected. Our results are consistent with the host imprinting hypothesis that cuckoos choose suitable hosts for parasitism by preference for them during the nestling period.
... Ce comportement s'exprime même en l'absence de matériau de nidification par des coups de pattes, des mordillements des éléments de la case, des reniflements avec le groin. Le comportement de nidification constitue une part importante du comportement de reproduction et du comportement maternel de la truie (Wischner et al., 2009) Une toile de jute fixée au réfectoire permet à la truie d'exprimer son comportement de nidification. Westin et al. (2014) ont montré que l'activité de nidification évolue au cours du temps avec un pic 9 d'expression entre 8 heures et 3 heures avant la mise bas, chez des truies logées en liberté dans la case et disposant de paille. ...
Technical Report
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Loose-house farrowing systems for sows: housing and management, performances, working conditions and welfare. Freedom of movement for sows in the farrowing building is an approach that improves animal welfare. Many types of housing pens exist for sows and their piglets, and differ according to the area required, the type of flooring and the presence of protective components for the piglets. The study and experimental results obtained since the beginning of the 2000s at stations in the Chambers of Agriculture in Brittany and the Pays de la Loire, supplemented with a literature review, describe the factors required to successfully house and manage animals. According to the results obtained on the experimental farm in Guernevez, the average number of crushed piglets increases to 0.5 piglets per litter when the sows move freely. High variability was observed among the animals, which is related to the general behaviour of the sow and its bedding behaviour. The cost of a farrowing system with freedom of movement is estimated at 33% more than a conventional crate; the required area is larger and the equipment is more robust. For animal welfare, the issue is the balance between providing freedom of movement to the sow and the risk of increased mortality for the piglets. Confining the sow in a stall for 4 to 7 days after farrowing is a way to decrease piglet mortality and maintain the mobility of the sow during the lactation period. Considering the technical conditions required for success is essential since current commercial and regulatory initiatives in Europe promote the development of loose-house farrowing systems for sows.
... Wie in der vorliegenden Untersuchung konnten aber auch Damm et al. (2003) sowie Hartsock und Barczewski (1997) das Manipulieren von Buchteneinrichtungen bei ausnahmslos allen Sauen in freien Abferkelbuchten mit Strohangebot beobachten. Wischner et al. (2009) hielten fest, dass es schwierig ist, solch stereotypes Verhalten von Nestbauverhalten zu unterscheiden, da das Manipulieren von Buchteneinrichtungen durch Bebeißen und Bekauen dem in einer naturnahen Umgebung möglichen Einsammeln, Bearbeiten und Tragen von Ästen entsprechen könnte (Jensen 1993). Damit übereinstimmend hat Gundlach (1968) solches Verhalten auch bei Wildschweinen beschrieben. ...
Conference Paper
The nest-building behaviour in sows before farrowing is affected by different endogenous and exogenous factors. Beside the type and amount of nest-building material, also space allowance has an impact on the quantity and quality of nest-building behaviour. To describe the variation in nest-building behaviour, 14 sows were observed in large, structured farrowing pens with a total area of 13.1 m2 during the 24 hours before farrowing. A broad space allowance and sufficient nest-building material ensured the performance of distinct and complex nest-building behaviour. Based on the literature, an ethogram with five behavioural patterns of nest-building behaviour was developed for the purpose of data analysis. Results showed only minor variation as four of five behavioural patterns were observed in 100 % of the sows. However, a greater variation became evident by redefining the ethogram into 18 behavioural elements. In conclusion, sows perform a larger number of nest-building elements when being provided with sufficient space and adequate nest-building material. Further, manipulating pen equipment and turning around are often associated in literature with restricted space allowance. In the present study, however, these behavioural patterns were observed in all sows, which indicates that they are a component of nest-building behaviour. In order to not restrict sows in their performance of nest-building behaviour, it should therefore be ensured that the space allowance and pen fittings of the free farrowing pen enable a great variation.
... In pig production e.g., sows are often kept in farrowing crates during parturition to restrain their movements and avoid piglets from being crushed. In those conditions, pre-partum sows are not able to perform nest-building behaviors, which they are highly motivated to perform to provide shelter and comfort to their young (Wischner et al., 2009). Predicting the onset of farrowing using automated monitoring systems could therefore help in management decisions such as restricting the time sows are kept in farrowing crates only to the critical period where piglets are most vulnerable, hence providing the sows with opportunities to perform those highly motivated behaviors (Oczak et al., 2015), and potentially having an effect on the negative-to-positive valence range. ...
Article
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The rise in the demand for animal products due to demographic and dietary changes has exacerbated difficulties in addressing societal concerns related to the environment, human health, and animal welfare. As a response to this challenge, Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) technologies are being developed to monitor animal health and welfare parameters in a continuous and automated way, offering the opportunity to improve productivity and detect health issues at an early stage. However, ethical concerns have been raised regarding their potential to facilitate the management of production systems that are potentially harmful to animal welfare, or to impact the human-animal relationship and farmers' duty of care. Using the Five Domains Model (FDM) as a framework, the aim is to explore the potential of PLF to help address animal welfare and to discuss potential welfare benefits and risks of using such technology. A variety of technologies are identified and classified according to their type [sensors, bolus, image or sound based, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)], their development stage, the species they apply to, and their potential impact on welfare. While PLF technologies have promising potential to reduce the occurrence of diseases and injuries in livestock farming systems, their current ability to help promote positive welfare states remains limited, as technologies with such potential generally remain at earlier development stages. This is likely due to the lack of evidence related to the validity of positive welfare indicators as well as challenges in technology adoption and development. Finally, the extent to which welfare can be improved will also strongly depend on whether management practices will be adapted to minimize negative consequences and maximize benefits to welfare.
... However, this leaves several knowledge gaps with regards to effective enrichment for other types of pigs. While there is a large body of literature on pre-partum nest building in sows and the use of nesting materials [21], there is much less literature on enrichment for both sows and piglets during the lactation phase. The review by Vanheukelom et al. [22] found beneficial effects on the welfare of both piglets and sows, by providing opportunities to engage in explorative behaviour, nest-building and social interactions and improving maternal responses. ...
Article
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Science has defined the characteristics of effective environmental enrichment for pigs. We provide an overview of progress towards the provision of pig enrichment in the three largest global pork producing regions. In the USA, enrichment has not yet featured on the policy agenda, nor appeared on farms, except when required by certain farm assurance schemes. China has very limited legal animal welfare provisions and public awareness of animal welfare is very low. Food safety concerns severely restrict the use of substrates (as enrichment) on farms. Providing enrichment to pigs is a legal requirement in the EU. In practice, enrichment is not present, or simple (point-source) objects are provided which have no enduring value. Other common issues are the provision of non-effective or hazardous objects, inadequate presentation, location, quantity and size or inadequate maintenance of enrichment. Improvements can be made by applying principles from the field of experimental analysis of behaviour to evaluate the effectiveness of enrichment; providing welfare knowledge transfer, including training and advisory services; highlighting the economic benefits of effective enrichment and focusing on return on investment; increasing pressure from the financial sector; using novel drivers of change, such as public business benchmarking. The poor implementation of scientific knowledge on farms suggests that the pig industry has not fully embraced the benefits of effective enrichment and is still a long way off achieving an enriched pig population.
... When preparing for motherhood, domestic sows are highly motivated to build a nest that protects the newborn piglets against climatic factors and predators, and facilitates the establishment of recognition and filial bonding of piglets with their mother (e.g. Wischner et al., 2009). The nest-building behaviour of sows has remained similar to that of their wild relatives (Jensen, 1986;Gustafsson et al., 1999), involving nest-seeking, digging a hollow in the ground by pawing and rooting, collecting vegetation and depositing it in the hollow and arranging the material before lying down (Jensen, 1986(Jensen, , 1993Mayer et al., 2002). ...
Article
Nest building is important in sow preparation for motherhood. However, straw or other bulky materials can block drains, and a finer-grained material such as peat is of interest as an alternative. The main aim of this study was to evaluate effects of different nesting materials on maternal behaviour during farrowing and early lactation. Norsvin Landrace x Swedish Yorkshire sows (n = 54) were loose-housed in individual farrowing pens with wood-shavings as litter. Mean ( ± SE) parity was 2.9 ± 2.0 (range 1–9), and 16 were primiparous. They were provided with peat (n = 18) or straw (n = 17) as nesting material from two days before expected farrowing until they farrowed, or received wood shavings litter only (controls, n = 18). From video recordings positive (i.e.sniffing, grunting, nudging) and negative (i.e. pushing, threatening barks, biting) communicatory behaviours from sow to piglets during farrowing (≤4 h) and on Day 1 post-partum (4 h) were registered by one-zero sampling at 1-min intervals. Nursing behaviour on Day 2 post-partum (6 h) was registered by continuous observation. During farrowing, sows provided with straw or peat as nesting material showed a lower frequency of negative communication towards piglets compared to controls (P < 0.05). Sows provided with straw had a higher proportion of sow-initiated nursing bouts and successful nursing bouts (i.e. with milk let-down) terminated by the piglets than sows in the peat and control groups. There were also differences in maternal behaviour across parities 1, 2–3 and≥4 (P < 0.05). Sows of parity≥4 exhibited a lower frequency of negative communication during farrowing than younger sows. On Day 1 post-partum, sows of parity 2–3 performed a higher frequency of positive communication than sows of other parities. The proportion of sow-initiated nursing bouts was higher in sows of parity≥4 than in primiparous sows, whereas the proportion of successful nursing bouts terminated by piglets was higher for primiparous than older sows. Positive sow-to-piglet communication increased with litter size during farrowing, but declined with litter size on Day 1. Proportion of sow-initiated nursing bouts increased with litter size, whereas the proportion of successful nursing bouts terminated by piglets decreased. The number of piglets without a teat during milk let-down increased with litter size (P < 0.05).These findings show that both peat and straw were associated with a lower rate of negative sow-to-piglet communication during farrowing compared to sows given wood shavings alone. Provision of straw, particularly, resulted in nursing behaviour indicative of increased maternal investment. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2019.104837
... Modern intensive farming systems have been designed to produce food as quickly and cost efficiently as possible, and research is continually ongoing to understand how animal welfare can be optimized within these systems. Despite many studies on the behavioral and welfare needs of sows during gestation (27)(28)(29)(30), only two studies used a specific judgment bias task to assess affective state in gestating sows. These studies focused on using judgment bias as a welfare indicator in gestating sows however, did not investigate how gestation itself influenced judgment bias (31,32). ...
Article
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In humans and rats, changes in affect are known to occur during pregnancy, however it is unknown how gestation may influence mood in other non-human mammals. This study assessed changes in pigs' judgment bias as a measure of affective state throughout gestation. Pigs were trained to complete a spatial judgment bias task with reference to positive and negative locations. We tested gilts before mating, and during early and late gestation, by assessing their responses to ambiguous probe locations. Pigs responded increasingly negatively to ambiguous probes as gestation progressed and there were consistent inter-individual differences in baseline optimism. This suggests that the pigs' affective state may be altered during gestation, although as a non-pregnant control group was not tested, an effect of learning cannot be ruled out. These results suggest that judgment bias is altered during gestation in domestic pigs, consequently raising novel welfare considerations for captive multiparous species.
... In order to close this gap in the literature, we investigate the empirical relationship between animal welfare and the economic performance of Danish pig farms, which is of particular relevance because a number of animal welfare issues are specific to pig farms, e.g. access to rooting material for fatteners (Studnitz et al., 2007) or nesting material for farrowing sows (Wischner et al., 2009), and Denmark has the highest per capita production and one of the highest per capita consumption of pork in the world (e.g. McGlone and Pond, 2003). ...
Article
We propose a theoretical framework for the relationship between animal welfare and the economic performance of livestock farms. We empirically analyse this relationship based on a unique dataset of randomly sampled Danish pig herds that includes information from unannounced inspections of the compliance with the animal welfare legislation. We find large variations in economic performance and animal welfare. The relationship between these two indicators is rather weak, but tends to be slightly positive. A possible explanation for our results is that management has a major influence on both economic performance and animal welfare so that good farm managers are able to meet all animal welfare regulations, while achieving a high economic performance.
... The main important arguments against keeping sows without restraint are increased piglet losses (Nicolaisen et al., 2019;Zhang et al., 2020), primarily due to crushing by sows in the first days after farrowing (Nicolaisen et al., 2019;Lohmeier et al., 2020), aggressiveness of sows towards stockpersons (Marchant-Forde, 2002;TVT, 2018), and high labour time requirements (Zhang et al., 2020) in sows kept in loose housing. However, the permanent confinement of sows in farrowing crates limits the freedom of movement and the possibility of sows showing their species-appropriate behaviour (Wischner et al., 2009;Zhang et al., 2020). Permanent confinement in crates reduces the sowpiglets interactions (Singh et al., 2017), increases the risk for skin lesions and injuries on sows' udder (Verhovsek et al., 2007;Singh et al., 2017) and hence indicates poor animal welfare. ...
Article
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With the keeping of lactating sows in loose housing systems, ensuring work safety for stockpersons is gaining importance. Aim of the present study was to develop tests characterising the behaviour of lactat-ing sows in farrowing environments with more freedom to move. The behaviour towards humans in different management procedures was examined. Emphasis was given to integrate tests into daily routines. The study was conducted in a nucleus herd with 771 purebred Landrace sows. Data were collected from October 2016 until December 2018. Sows were kept in individual indoor pens with movable farrowing crates in which the animals were restrained from 7 days antepartum (ap) to an average of 7 days postpar-tum (pp). The Dummy Arm Test (DAT; 1444 observations) was used to assess the sows' reaction towards a stockperson handling the piglets around day 4 pp (closed crates). With the Towel Test (TT; 2846 observations), the reaction of sows to a novel object and an unexpected situation was assessed. The Trough Cleaning Test (TCT; 2805 observations) described the sows' response to common procedures such as trough cleaning. TT and TCT were conducted on days 3 pp (closed crates) and 10 pp (open crates). Variance components of behavioural traits were estimated univariately with a linear animal model, and genetic correlations between traits were derived using a multivariate animal model in ASreml 3.0. Most sows showed no or only a slight reaction to human interactions without attempting to attack them. However, a strong defensive reaction of sows was recorded in 4.0% (TCT), 4.5% (TT), and 10.7% (DAT) of observations. This behaviour of sows was observed more frequently in the open than in the closed pen system. Estimates of heritabilities (h 2 ± SE) were h 2 = 0.17 ± 0.05 for behaviour of sows towards humans (DAT), h 2 = 0.19 ± 0.04 for response of sows towards unexpected situations (TT), and h 2 = 0.13 ± 0.04 for reactions of animals to TCT. Genetic correlations (r g ± SE) ranged from r g = 0.59 ± 0.37 between TT and TCT to r g = 0.77 ± 0.30 between TT and DAT. Our results show that the developed tests are suitable for assessing the behaviour of sows towards humans. Behavioural traits derived from these tests could be used as new phenotypes for the genetic selection of gentle and easy-to-handle sows. The genetic correlations of all tests studied were positive indicating related reaction patterns.
... Prepartum activity (prepartum nesting and prepartum postural changes) may predict postpartum activity and maternal behavior (e.g., longer udder access, fewer postural changes), which is vital for piglet survival. Sows with fewer crushed piglets displayed greater nest-building activity 8 to 6 h before farrowing compared with sows with a higher number of crushed piglets (Andersen et al., 2005;Wischner et al., 2009). Nest-building activity is terminated several hours before farrowing under seminatural conditions (Jensen, 1986), which might be important for piglet survival. ...
Article
Full-text available
In the 24-h period prior to parturition, sows are active and motivated to perform nest-building behavior. The aim of this study was to investigate whether prepartum activity (nesting and postural changes) could predict maternal behavior 24 h postpartum, piglet mortality, and BW gain 24 h postpartum in farrowing pens and crates. Sows were randomly moved either to a farrowing pen (n = 20) or a farrowing crate (n = 18). Prepartum nest-building behavior (PRE-nesting) and prepartum postural changes (prepartum postural changes) were analyzed 24 h before the birth of the first piglet (BFP) and were divided into twelve 2-h intervals. Latency of the first suckling from the litter was observed after the birth of the last piglet. Udder accesses and piglet suckling were noted at 5-min intervals, using 1/0 sampling, during the first 24 h after BFP were counted. Piglet trapping, crushing, and total live-born mortality were measured during the first 72 h after BFP. Piglet BW gain was estimated 24 h after BFP. Increased PRE-nesting observed 2 h before BFP were associated with fewer suckling intervals in crates but not in pens (P < 0.01) as well as an increase in postural changes during parturition (P < 0.001) in both housings. A link between housing and PRE-postural changes was evident. An increase in the number of PRE-postural changes 2 h prior to BFP was associated with lower incidences of udder access in crates but not in pens (P < 0.05). A higher probability of piglet trapping was associated with increased PRE-nesting in the 2 to 4 h before BFP. No significant relationship between either PRE-nesting and postural changes and piglet BW gain and mortality was detected. Our results suggest that increased prepartum activity 2 h before parturition is associated with less suckling and less udder access in farrowing crates but not in farrowing pens. This suggests that the same sow behavior can have different consequences in pens vs. in crates. Future research should focus on nest-building activity, its relationship to endocrine indicators (e.g., oxytocin, cortisol) before parturition, and its potential long-lasting effects on subsequent maternal behaviors and piglet production. © 2016 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
... However, the confinement of sows in crates has a negative impact on the sows' welfare, such as limited freedom of movement, limited social interactions with newborn piglets [2,3], and diminished health [4,5]. Confinement also prevents much of the prenatal nest-building behaviour, an essential part of the behavioural repertoire in sows, which starts approximately 24 h before parturition, is most intense 6 to 12 h before parturition, and then, decreases as parturition begins [6,7]. Increased physiological stress for the sow is a consequence of the confinement in a crate, which is indicated by changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, consistent with chronic stress [8]. ...
Article
Full-text available
One way to reduce the negative impact of farrowing crates on sow welfare is to limit confinement of sows from the onset of farrowing until the end of the critical period of piglets' life a few days after farrowing. In order to provide an indication of the time when sows should be confined in crates, ear tag-based acceleration data was modeled to provide the following two types of alarms: A "first-stage" alarm that indicates the beginning of nest-building behaviour, and a "second-stage" alarm that indicates the ending of the nest-building behaviour. In total, 53 sows were included in the experiment. Each sow had an ear tag with an accelerometer sensor mounted on the ear. Acceleration data were modeled with the Kalman filtering and fixed interval smoothing (KALMSMO) algorithm. It was possible to predict farrowing on the basis of increased activity in the validation dataset with a median of 8 h 51 min before the onset of farrowing. Alarms that indicated the need for confinement of the sow in a crate were generated with a median of 2 h 3 min before the onset of farrowing. These results suggest that the developed model should be sufficient to provide early warning of approaching farrowing and secondary alarm indicating the need to confine a sow in a crate.
... Prepartum activity (prepartum nesting and prepartum postural changes) may predict postpartum activity and maternal behavior (e.g., longer udder access, fewer postural changes), which is vital for piglet survival. Sows with fewer crushed piglets displayed greater nest-building activity 8 to 6 h before farrowing compared with sows with a higher number of crushed piglets ( Andersen et al., 2005;Wischner et al., 2009). Nest-building activity is terminated several hours before farrowing under seminatural conditions ( Jensen, 1986), which might be important for piglet survival. ...
Article
In the 24-h period prior to parturition, sows are active and motivated to perform nest-building behavior. The aim of this study was to investigate whether prepartum activity (nesting and postural changes) could predict maternal behavior 24 h postpartum, piglet mortality, and BW gain 24 h postpartum in farrowing pens and crates. Sows were randomly moved either to a farrowing pen (n = 20) or a farrowing crate (n = 18). Prepartum nest-building behavior (PRE-nesting) and prepartum postural changes (prepartum postural changes) were analyzed 24 h before the birth of the first piglet (BFP) and were divided into twelve 2-h intervals. Latency of the first suckling from the litter was observed after the birth of the last piglet. Udder accesses and piglet suckling were noted at 5-min intervals, using 1/0 sampling, during the first 24 h after BFP were counted. Piglet trapping, crushing, and total live-born mortality were measured during the first 72 h after BFP. Piglet BW gain was estimated 24 h after BFP. Increased PRE-nesting observed 2 h before BFP were associated with fewer suckling intervals in crates but not in pens (P < 0.01) as well as an increase in postural changes during parturition (P < 0.001) in both housings. A link between housing and PRE-postural changes was evident. An increase in the number of PRE-postural changes 2 h prior to BFP was associated with lower incidences of udder access in crates but not in pens (P < 0.05). A higher probability of piglet trapping was associated with increased PRE-nesting in the 2 to 4 h before BFP. No significant relationship between either PRE-nesting and postural changes and piglet BW gain and mortality was detected. Our results suggest that increased prepartum activity 2 h before parturition is associated with less suckling and less udder access in farrowing crates but not in farrowing pens. This suggests that the same sow behavior can have different consequences in pens vs. in crates. Future research should focus on nest-building activity, its relationship to endocrine indicators (e.g., oxytocin, cortisol) before parturition, and its potential long-lasting effects on subsequent maternal behaviors and piglet production. © 2016 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
... Although this rise is expected, it is important to evaluate how stress around parturition can be controlled to minimize the risk of farrowing issues. Sows housed in farrowing crates in late gestation have reportedly higher concentrations of plasma cortisol than do sows housed in pens [86] and this may impact farrowing performance [87]. Farrowing crates are commonplace housing for farrowing sows [13] due to their lower space requirements and reduced risk of overlays [88,89]. ...
Article
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As sows continue to be selected for greater prolificacy, it is important to review problems that arise in larger litters, and whether these issues can be appropriately managed. Although a proportion of piglets in larger litters can be born underweight, proper supervision around farrowing and adequate colostrum intake has the potential to improve the survival of low-birth-weight piglets and their ongoing growth to weaning. As larger litters can impart greater stress and discomfort on sows, implementing a low-stress environment leading up to parturition may improve sow performance and subsequent survival of piglets. Additionally, treating sows with anti-inflammatory compounds, either dietary or pharmacologically, shows some promise for alleviating sow discomfort and improving piglet survival in larger litters. Understanding that selecting sows for larger litters not only affects piglet survival but the well-being of the sow, the decision to continue selecting for larger litters, regardless of management strategies, remains a topic of ethical concern.
... Furthermore, sows are in a state of advanced pregnancy at the last observation points. In this gestational phase sows naturally do not frequently interact but separate from other group members while focusing on nest-building behaviour (Kurz and Marchinton, 1972;Wischner et al., 2009). ...
Thesis
In modern animal husbandry, dynamic group-housing of pregnant sows is a common practice. Every regrouping of animals or every change of group composition is associated with the establishment or the adjustment of a new dominance hierarchy, which provokes aggressive behavior, fights and injuries. This process is known to result in social stress by an activation of different stress systems. The subsequent release of neuroendocrine signals like glucocorticoids (e.g. cortisol) has the potential to alter several immune functions and immune cell numbers in the blood which may be directly associated with animals’ health, reproduction, embryonic development and economic losses. The effects of frequent regrouping or mixing on pregnant sows’ behavior, stress hormones and especially the distribution of blood leukocyte subpopulations represent a major research gap in the field of stress assessment of dynamic group-housing conditions in pig production. The aim of the present doctoral thesis was to evaluate whether frequent regrouping acts as a chronic social stressor influencing behavior as well as the endocrine and immune system of group-housed pregnant sows. Special emphasis was put on the question whether frequent changes of the group composition affect blood leukocyte subpopulations. A study with 40 pregnant sows was designed to investigate the influence of frequent changes of group composition on numbers of blood leukocyte subpopulations in combination with analyses of agonistic behavior and the endocrine status. Pregnant multiparous sows were housed in groups of five animals. Sows were either assigned to a repeated social mixing treatment with a mutual exchange of two randomly selected sows of two specific groups (2x2) twice a week over a period of eight weeks, or remained undisturbed in their original group. Blood samples of all sows were collected during pregnancy at five time points before, during, and after the mixing period to evaluate the number of blood leukocyte subpopulations and plasma cortisol concentrations. Blood immune cell numbers were analyzed during all trimesters of gestation and the impact of social status on these modifications was assessed. Behavioral data of pregnant sows of this experiment were used to compare various recommended dominance indices to rank individuals based on different methodical aspects to investigate whether these indices are comparable and equally applicable for determination of dominance relationships. Results of the current study demonstrated that pregnancy-associated alterations in the immune system generally exist in sows. The numbers of T cells, natural killer cells, B cells, cytotoxic T cells, and CD8+ γδ- T cells decreased during the last trimester of pregnancy, while neutrophils and plasma cortisol concentrations increased during pregnancy. Those pregnancy-associated alterations in the immune system were affected especially in middle-ranking sows, which had higher numbers of B cells and monocytes than sows with lower ranking positions. Plasma cortisol concentrations also tended to be higher in middle-ranking sows compared to low-ranking sows indicating that social rank can influence the immune system and endocrine status in sows during pregnancy. These findings showed the necessity to choose the appropriate measurement for calculation of dominance relationships. Repeated social mixing by frequent changes of group composition not only resulted in an increase of aggressive behavior during the entire mixing period, but also in altered immune cell numbers. The immunological profile in blood of mixed sows was characterized by lower numbers of antigen-experienced T helper cells, cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells. This work demonstrated that frequent changes of group composition affect both cell numbers of the innate and the adaptive part of the immune system, which may weaken immunological memory functioning and reduce the resistance against certain infections in pregnant sows. For most of these immune cells a certain period of instable housing conditions was required to induce a change, but once manifested, these immunological alterations persisted even after the end of the mixing period. Although the findings of the present work on blood immune cell numbers resemble in many aspects a picture of stress-induced immunomodulation previously reported in context with social stress, no clear differences in measured plasma stress hormone concentrations between treatment groups or rank-positions were found. Whether other factors have influenced cortisol concentrations needs to be further evaluated. The overall picture emerging from the current doctoral thesis indicates that frequent changes of group composition and social status have the potential to induce stress-related immunological changes in pregnant sows which might adversely affect sows’ health.
... The presence of lights, intermittently or continuously, could be stressful for the sows and/or their piglets, as has been observed in other species (Davies et al., 2013). It is possible that artificial lighting could interrupt pre-parturient nesting behaviour of sows; a primal habit that provides crucial shelter for the piglets during their first 24 h of life (Marchant et al., 2001;Wischner et al., 2009). Any resulting lack of protection may increase piglet vulnerability to hypothermia, starvation, disease, crushing, and savaging either during birth, or shortly thereafter (Kirkden et al., 2013). ...
Article
Across the world, the impact of livestock predation is a significant economic and welfare issue for producers, particularly for free-range farms. Non-lethal predator control methods have broad consumer appeal, but in most instances there has been little validation of their effectiveness. Predation remains a major limitation for outdoor piggeries, where predation is both an economic and welfare problem. We compared the efficacy of (1) no lighting (un-lit control), (2) commercially-available Foxlights®, and (3) motion-activated spotlights to test whether lights can deter red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) from approaching farrowing huts on an outdoor piggery breeding facility. Passive infrared camera traps were mounted at the entrance to the farrowing huts to monitor fox activity over 85 farrowings. Multiple incidences of foxes carrying piglets away from the huts (both dead and alive) were recorded. There were significant lighting treatment effects on fox activity (P = 0.031) and farm records for number of piglet births recorded per sow (P = 0.015). Compared with the un-lit control treatment, farrowing huts in the Foxlights® treatment had 12 % more fox activity, and 23 % fewer piglet births recorded for sows in these paddocks. Controlling for environmental covariates, there was predicted to be 39 % more fox activity on dark (new moon) nights for the Foxlights® treatment. By contrast, compared with the control, farrowing huts in the motion-activated spotlight treatment had similar overall fox activity (–5%) and piglet births recorded (–3 %). Interactions with moon phase (and rainfall as a prediction of cloud cover) are likely to be important considerations for studies of lighting deterrents, and we found that weaning rate (farm records for the proportion of piglets born alive that survived to weaning) was only influenced by lunar illumination (p = 0.003), with 16 % fewer piglets born around bright (full moon) nights surviving to weaning compared with dark (new moon) nights. Rather than being a deterrent, Foxlights® appear to be an attractant to foxes on this property, where there was no reinforcement with aversive human activity or other deterrent modalities. The motion-activated spotlights may be more effective because they are only activated when an animal is present and should therefore have reduced likelihood of habituation; however we found no data suggesting that they improved the outcome over our un-lit control treatment for this outdoor piggery.
... The first stage of parturition overlaps with the time period of nest-building behavior, which is a highly expressed, intrinsic behavior of the pig occurring during the last 24 h prior to the onset of the expulsion stage (Jensen, 1986;Algers and Uvnäs-Moberg, 2007). Nest-building activity is at its peak between 6 and 12 h preceding the expulsion of the first piglet (for reviews, see Lawrence et al., 1997;Wischner et al., 2009). If space and materials for nest-building are lacking, sows may redirect the need for nest-building to other types of activities, giving rise to greater overall activity level during parturition. ...
... In nature, sows exhibit the maternal behaviour of nest-building around 24 h before the beginning of farrowing providing comfort and a proper thermal environment to the newborns, as well as protecting piglets against possible attacks from predators (Jensen, 1986;Wischner et al., 2009). Studies have indicated that domestication has not been able to change this maternal conduct. ...
Article
Sows are highly motivated to build a nest prior to farrowing, but, given the barren environment of farrowing crates, this behaviour is limited and improperly expressed. We aimed to assess the effects of a straw provision in the farrowing crate as environmental enrichment in the prepartum period on: 1) sows' reproductive and behavioural responses before, during and after farrowing, and 2) piglets' performance during lactation. Multiparous sows (N = 32) were assigned according to parity to two enrichment conditions: 1) Control sows, and 2) Straw sows, (N = 16 sows/treatment). In the control treatment, the sows were kept in farrowing crates with no environmental enrichment. In the straw treatment, straw was provided in the farrowing crate by purpose-built boxes attached to the crate bars next to the sows. Straw was provided 24 hours prior to the expected due date and removed after farrowing. Sows' behaviours (N = 12 sows/treatment) were recorded uninterruptedly from 12 hours prior to farrowing until the 13th day of lactation. Data on reproductive performance (number of liveborn and stillborns, farrowing duration, and births interval) were collected. Five piglets were selected from each sow for assessment of performance and levels of blood lactate. All piglet deaths, as well as their causes, were recorded. Sows from straw treatment exhibited a higher frequency of nest-building behaviour and lower frequency of stereotyped behaviour and sitting posture (P < 0.05). No differences were found in the sows’ behaviours during farrowing (P > 0.05). The sows from control treatment exhibited a higher number of posture changes (P = 0.057). The frequency of nursing was higher in the sows that had access to straw (P < 0.05). No differences were observed in reproductive performance (P > 0.05). Providing straw had no effects on performance, lactate levels, or postnatal mortality of piglets (P > 0.05). Providing nesting material in the farrowing crate improves the welfare of sows by increasing their motivation to build the nest and reducing the stereotyped behaviours prior to farrowing. Moreover, access to straw reduces sow unrest during farrowing and stimulates the maternal behaviour of nursing.
... The farrowing crate restricts movements, allowing the sow only enough space to stand up and lie down but not to turn around. The flooring and manure management system generally prohibit the provision of substrate required to help fulfil behavioural needs, such as the performance of highly motivated nest-building behaviour (Wischner et al., 2009). Nest-building is a behavioural pattern typically initiated by sows from 16-24h before they give birth. ...
Chapter
Optimising welfare in the farrowing and lactation environment involves resolving the concerns regarding continued use of close confinement systems, such as the farrowing crate for the sows and the lack of provision of environmental enrichment to provide for behavioural needs. For piglets the main welfare and health issues surround high levels of piglet mortality and the pre-disposing risk factors associated with them. Some of these risk factors, such as low birth weight, have been exacerbated by narrow breeding goals focussed on production traits such as increasing litter size. This chapter will concentrate on managerial and environmental interventions that attempt to reconcile the behavioural and physiological needs of both the sow and piglets to optimise their welfare whilst appreciating stockperson concerns with how best to implement them.
... The intense nest-building behavior occurring 6 to 12 h prior to farrowing (Wischner et al., 2009) is energy demanding because of high locomotory activity where the energy is being oxidized and CO 2 released. Heat production is roughly doubled when sows are in standing posture as compared with lying (Theil, 2002), and Noblet et al. (1993) reported that the energetic costs associated with standing activity amount to 0.37 MJ per kg 0.75 per day or almost as high as the maintenance requirement (0.46 MJ per kg 0.75 per day). ...
Article
The sow at parturition is challenged with respect to energy status due to increases in energetic expenses associated with 1) nest building 2) uterine contractions and 3) colostrum production. A previous study indicated that sows were depleted of glucogenic energy around farrowing. The aim was to investigate whether intravenous infusion of glucose from observed nest building behavior to 24 h postpartum affected the farrowing kinetics and colostrum production in sows. Ten multiparous sows (DanBred landrace × DanBred Yorkshire) were fitted with a jugular vein catheter on each side (one for infusion, one for blood sampling). Sows were infused with either 0.9% saline (CON; n=5) or 10% glucose (GLU; n=5) solution at a constant rate of 125 ml/h. From day 108 of gestation, sows were fed once daily with 3.33 kg of a standard lactation diet. During farrowing sows were monitored to register the onset of farrowing, time of birth, birth status (live or dead), sex, stillbirth rate (SR) and weight of newborn piglets. Farrowing assistance (FA) was provided when birth interval exceeded 60 min. In late gestation, 1 mL of blood was collected every third h for blood gas analysis and every sixth h for harvesting plasma. During farrowing, 1 mL (for blood gas) and 9 mL blood was collected at 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21 and 24 hours in milk (HIM). Colostrum and milk samples were collected at 0, 6, 12, 18, 24 and 36 HIM and also at 3, 10, 17 and 24 days in milk. Compared with CON sows, GLU infusion decreased the SR (16.1 vs 7.4%; P= = 0.03), FA (21 vs 9.0%; P = 0.01) and surprisingly also blood glucose at onset of farrowing (5.53 vs 5.09 mmol/L; P = 0.03), respectively. A tendency to higher plasma lactate at the onset of farrowing (P = 0.05) but decreased piglet mortality from 0-24 h (P = 0.06) were also found for GLU sows. No effects of treatment on farrowing duration or mean birth intervals were found. Lactate in whole blood (P = 0.003) and plasma (P = 0.002) was increased for GLU sows as compared with CON sows during the colostrum period. No effect of GLU infusion was seen on colostrum and milk composition and yield. The increase in lactate was most likely due to a shift towards a greater proportion of glucose oxidation and insufficient O2 supply to fuel uterine contractions. In conclusion, infusion of glucose reduced the frequency of SR and FA, and improved energy status of the sow seems to be a crucial trait to enhance total piglet survival.
... Other reports have shown that the newborn piglet usually experiences a sudden and dramatic 15-20°C decrease in its thermal environment. Without protection against climatic influences, the piglets would experience hypothermia, which is a leading cause of neonatal death (37). Research in 2011 reported that farmers suffered an average 20% mortality per litter of piglets, with one major cause being chilling, although heat lamps had been used to provide localized heating for piglets (38)(39)(40). ...
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Uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1) is localized on the inner mitochondrial membrane and generates heat by uncoupling ATP synthesis from proton transit across the inner membrane. UCP1 is a key element of nonshivering thermogenesis and is most likely important in the regulation of body adiposity. Pigs (Artiodactyl family Suidae) lack a functional UCP1 gene, resulting in poor thermoregulation and susceptibility to cold, which is an economic and pig welfare issue owing to neonatal mortality. Pigs also have a tendency toward fat accumulation, which may be linked to their lack of UCP1, and thus influences the efficiency of pig production. Here, we report application of a CRISPR/Cas9-mediated, homologous recombination (HR)-independent approach to efficiently insert mouse adiponectin-UCP1 into the porcine endogenous UCP1 locus. The resultant UCP1 knock-in (KI) pigs showed an improved ability to maintain body temperature during acute cold exposure, but they did not have alterations in physical activity levels or total daily energy expenditure (DEE). Furthermore, ectopic UCP1 expression in white adipose tissue (WAT) dramatically decreased fat deposition by 4.89% (P < 0.01), consequently increasing carcass lean percentage (CLP; P < 0.05). Mechanism studies indicated that the loss of fat upon UCP1 activation in WAT was linked to elevated lipolysis. UCP1 KI pigs are a potentially valuable resource for agricultural production through their combination of cold adaptation, which improves pig welfare and reduces economic losses, with reduced fat deposition and increased lean meat production.
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The CGIAR research programme on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security, in collaboration with several partners is testing a portfolio of interventions to address the threat of changing climatic conditions for smallholder farming communities living beside river flood plains, grouped into “Climate Smart Villages” (CSVs). We present characteristics of farms in CSV in relation to small ruminant (SR) production and the scenario for a breeding and improvement programme. Information was collated using participatory systems research methods from 140 households in seven CSVs in Nyando basin, Kenya. Although most households were headed by men, there were a higher proportion of adult women within the communities, and literacy levels were moderate. A total of 58 percent of the population owned <1 ha of land for growing crops and rearing on average 6.96 ± 3.35 Tropical Livestock Units comprising different species of animals. Women headed households owned more sheep which were mainly crosses of unspecified local breeds, than Goats which were mainly the Small East African breed-type. Mating among the SR was random, with no control of inbreeding as flocks mixed in grazing fields and at water points. Farmers desired large and resilient animals for better market prices; however, growth rates were slow. The SR flocks were dynamic with 31 percent of the animals moving in and out of flocks in a year. A community breeding programme optimally using available resources and incorporating gender integrated innovative technologies could be implemented for the CSV, alongside strong capacity development on animal husbandry, health and marketing of products.
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The primary objective of this survey was to investigate the relationship between qualitative maternal behavioural scores (nest building activities, sow communication and sow carefulness), piglet mortality and the number of weaned piglets on commercial farms with loose-housed lactating (Norsvin Landrace × Yorkshire) sows. Secondly, the impact of these scores on productivity compared to the physical condition of sows (movement disorders, body condition, and shoulder lesions) was assessed. Data on maternal care behaviours and physical condition were collected on 895 sows from 45 commercial farms. Farmers scored sows on their physical condition (movement disorder: MD, body condition: BCS, shoulder lesions: SL) and qualitative maternal care behaviours (nest building activities prior to farrowing: NEST; and sow communication: COM, and carefulness: CARE after farrowing, while sows were standing, moving and just before lying down). There was a low positive correlation between NEST and COM (r = 0.102; P = 0.026) and between NEST and CARE (r = 0.149; P = 0.010), but a high positive between COM and CARE (r = 0.565; P < 0.001). Higher COM and CARE were associated with lower piglet mortality (P ˂0.001, P = 0.013, respectively), and a greater number of weaned piglets were associated with higher scores for NEST (P = 0.009), COM (P < 0.001) and CARE (P = 0.009). Maternal care behaviour had a greater impact on piglet mortality and the number of weaned piglets than sow physical condition (MD, BCS, SL). We tested 7 different models (combinations of behavioural scores) and compared their relative predictive accuracies using Akaike information criteria (AIC). The model including COM and CARE had the best predictive accuracy for piglet mortality/weaned piglets. There was between-sow variation in maternal care behaviours (COM and CARE) and both were unaffected by litter size. Since these behaviours were also easy to score for the farmers, combining COM and CARE have the greatest potential to be tested in nucleus herds for calculation of genetic variation and heritability, and should be taken into account into future breeding programmes for sows.
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Chapter
In modern science, however, applied animal behavior is a remarkably new field. Animal machines created such a strong public reaction that the British government set up a technical committee to investigate the welfare of farm animals. Animal behavior has been applied in efforts to reduce harm to animals caused by human actions. One of the major applications of animal behavior is the design of better environments for captive, farmed, and laboratory animals, partly for the practical goal of making the environments function better, and partly to improve the welfare of the animals that live in them. The animals' welfare is presumably improved because they show little fear of people and a less pronounced physiological stress response to handling. Many concerns about animal welfare are primarily concerns about the affective states of animals—their “emotions,” “feelings,” and other pleasant or unpleasant experiences. Abnormal animal behavior has provided a strong stimulus to understand affective states of animals.
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Zitiervorschlag: GROßE STREINE, L; KLINK-LEHMANN, J.; WEINGARTEN, N.; SIMONS, J.; S. UND HARTMANN, M.: (2021): Konkurrierende Schutzgüter in der Tierhaltung: Analyse aus Sicht der Konsument*innen. Landwirtschaftliche Fakultät der Universität Bonn, Schriftenreihe des Lehr-und Forschungsschwerpunktes USL, Nr. 194, 85 Seiten.
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Farrowing crates prevent sows during lactation from moving freely and interacting unrestrictedly with their piglets. The aim of this study was to compare sows during lactation in a group-housing system (GH; n = 23) and sows in a conventional single-housing system (SH; n = 24) with regard to their maternal behaviour. GH sows were only fixed in their pens three days ante partum until one day post partum. For the remaining amount of time they were able to choose between their home pen and a shared running area. Piglets were able to leave their pens on day five post partum. Data were collected in four batches with six sows in each housing system. All sows were observed in week 2 and week 4 of lactation in six successive tests concerning their maternal behaviour. The sows' reaction to piglet distress calls, separation from and reunion with their piglets was tested both in their home pens and in a test arena for a maximum of five minutes. The test arena (3.9. m. ×. 3.7. m) provided a piglet nest in a corner. The sows were only able to hear and smell their piglets. In the piglet scream test in the home pen, GH sows were more responsive to piglet screaming than SH sows. GH sows showed more body movements towards their screaming piglets and aggressiveness towards the experimenter (p. <. 0.05) as well as stronger postural reactions at the end of the test; i.e. standing (p. <. 0.05). However, in the piglet scream test in the test arena, SH sows remained near their handled piglet more frequently (p. <. 0.05) and vocalised more frequently (p. <. 0.05). Whereas, GH sows tended to explore the test arena more (p. <. 0.10). During the separation test in the home pen, no behavioural differences between GH and SH sows could be obtained. During the separation test in the test arena, all sows remained near the piglet nest with their piglets. Furthermore, SH sows walked more (p. <. 0.05), while GH sows explored the test arena more frequently (p. <. 0.05). In the reunion test in the home pen, GH sows tended to vocalise more frequently (p. <. 0.10). No behavioural differences could be found between GH and SH sows in the reunion test in the test arena. Regarding total piglet losses (e.g. crushing, underweight, runting, spay legs), GH sows had lower total losses compared to SH sows (p. <. 0.05). Furthermore, GH sows crushed fewer piglets than SH sows (p. <. 0.05). To conclude, GH sows showed stronger behavioural reactions in the home pen and SH sows in the test arena. Thus, the housing system has an effect on maternal behaviour. Further research is needed to obtain more information, if the significantly lower piglet losses of GH sows are related to the stronger maternal reactions in the home pens of these sows and to the housing conditions ante partum.
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There is some evidence to show that loose housing during gestation has a negative influence on the welfare of sows subsequently in farrowing crates. However, little is known about the effects of the gestation housing on the initial responses of gilts to the farrowing crate or of the effects on gilt welfare throughout lactation. The objective of this experiment was to evaluate three gestation housing systems (1) stalls (ST); (2) loose-bedded (LB) and (3) loose-unbedded (LU) pens for their effect on behaviour, heart rate and skin lesion scores of gilts in farrowing crates. During the 1st h in the farrowing crate, LB gilts were more active, while ST gilts were more vocal. Although heart rates during the 1st h did not differ significantly between treatments, LB and LU gilts had significantly higher mean heart rates during the first 5 min in the crate, compared with 35 min later. Posture changes during the first 24 h did not differ between treatments. However, there was a significant reduction in the number of posture changes made by ST gilts but not LB or LU gilts by day 8. Increases in the skin lesion score of gilts in all three treatments were observed after 24 h in the crate, further increases were observed post farrowing in both loose treatments. Although no significant differences in the skin lesion score were observed during lactation, LB gilts were weaned with lower lesion scores than LU or ST gilts. Gilts from both loose treatments experienced greater distress at first introduction to the farrowing crate. However, the change in environment also had an adverse affect on the welfare of ST gilts. Skin damage and continuing discomfort of the loose-housed gilts post farrowing suggests that they experienced more stress at parturition. Bedding during gestation had a beneficial effect on skin health in the farrowing crate that persisted until weaning.
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Behavioral and endocrine changes in the sow following injection with prostaglandin F2 alpha (PGF2 alpha) or its analogue, cloprostenol (CLO), were monitored to identify endocrine correlates of prepartum activity (nest-building). On Day 112 postcoitum, within 15 min after injection with 10 mg PGF2 alpha, sows offered straw in pens engaged in intense prepartum activity, but few behavioral changes occurred during the first 2 h following administration of 175 micrograms CLO. The temporal pattern of prepartum activity, however, was affected by both prostaglandins. In control sows, most prepartum activity came during Hours 16-0 before delivery of first piglet (delivery). After CLO, sows engaged in nest-building more during Hours 32-17 and less during Hours 16-0. In another experiment, sows in farrowing crates were injected with saline, 175 micrograms CLO, or 10 mg PGF2 alpha on Day 112 and blood was collected 0, 15, 30, 60, and 90 min later. Another sample was collected when spontaneous prepartum activity was first observed. For approximately 90 min after PGF2 alpha treatment, sows rooted, pawed, and bit and rubbed faces on crate bars; after saline and CLO, this behavior was rarely observed. After prostaglandin treatment, plasma progesterone tended to decline, a 10-fold rise in relaxin came within 15 min, but estrone did not change. Plasma prolactin rose 10-fold within 30 min after PGF2 alpha treatment, and rose more gradually after CLO treatment. When sows exhibited spontaneous prepartum activity (approximately 7 h before delivery), endocrine status was characterized by low progesterone, high estrone:progesterone ratio, and high prolactin.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
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The `Werribee farrowing pen' (WFP) was developed as a loose housing alternative to the farrowing crate. The WFP occupies about twice the space of a crate and comprises two compartments, a `nest' and a `non-nest' area. In this experiment, we investigated the effects of reducing total pen space by modifying the dimensions of the `nest'. The hypothesis was that modifying `nest' size and width would not negatively affect piglet survival. A reduction in total floor space in the WFP may increase attractiveness for adoption of the system by pig producers. The experiment had a 2×2 factorial design with nine replicates and a total of 72 primiparous sows (Large White×Landrace) and their litters. All subjects were included to day 4 of lactation, but production data to weaning (day 23) was restricted to 36 litters. We examined the effects of `nest' size (large: L vs. small: S) and width (wide: W vs. narrow: N) on sow and piglet behaviours and piglet survival. The W, as compared to N treatment sows, had longer mean bouts of standing in the `nest' during 16–8 h pre-farrowing (3.7 vs. 2.0 min, P
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A total of 59 farrowings were studied in either a conventional, narrow farrowing crate (0.43 m wide) or a much wider alternative design with sides spaced 1.2 m apart at the sow's standing height but narrowing near the floor to limit the sow's lying area. Using video recoding, we monitored each “birth interval” (i.e. the period between two successive births) and noted the interval's length, the sow's posture and postural changes during the interval, and whether the interval ended with a live-born or stillborn piglet. The wide and conventional crates did not differ significantly in median interval between piglets (15.9 versus 16.0 min, respectively), incidence of stillbirth (5.8 versus 7.0%), in any measures of posture or postural change, or in piglet survival and weight gain to 3 days of age. Sows were most active during the first two birth intervals; as farrowing continued they made progressively fewer postural changes and spent more time lying. Sows differed greatly in the frequency of postural changes and the time they spent in different postures; however, these measures were largely unrelated to stillbirths, except that stillbirths were rare if the sow sat during much of the interval (P < 0.001). Birth intervals were longer, on average, before a stillbirth (median of 34 min) than before a live birth (13 min; P < 0.001). The greater incidence of stillbirths late in the farrowing was associated with a greater proportion of long birth intervals late in the farrowing, and greater likelihood of stillbirth even for shorter and medium intervals. Stillbirths were more common in longer farrowings (P ≈ 0.01), evidently because these tended to involve larger litter sizes and more long birth intervals of over 60 min. However, the proportion stillborn in a litter was not correlated with median birth interval. The results of this and related studies suggest that greater freedom of movement in the farrowing environment does not consistently produce shorter duration of farrowing or a lower incidence of stillbirth.
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The effects of gestation (individual stall vs. group pen) and farrowing/lactation (conventional crate vs. prototype pair-pen system for two sows) treatments on sow and piglet behaviours considered relevant to piglet survival were examined in a 2 × 2 factorial experiment involving 96 primiparous crossbred (Large White × Landrace) sows and their litters. The pair-pen system provided each sow with an area of about 10 m2 and included a specific farrowing area which contained features important for piglet survival similar to those found in farrowing crates, i.e. small area and heated creep. Sow and piglet behaviour and piglet survival and growth were measured to Day 8 of lactation. While a greater (P < 0.01) proportion of piglets were alive on Day 8 for sows in the gestation stall treatment compared with the gestation pen treatment (88.6 vs. 83.3% of total born (TB)), mean litter size at birth tended to be smaller (P < 0.1) in the former treatment (8.6 vs. 9.4 piglets per sow). Piglet mortality was higher for sows housed in group pens during gestation and crates during farrowing than for sows in the other treatment combinations. Stillbirths occurred at a rate of 8.4 vs. 4.4% of TB and deaths of liveborn piglets in the first 3 days occurred at a rate of 11.0 vs. 6.1% of TB in the gestation pen-farrowing crate treatment compared with the other treatments combined. Sows in the crate treatment compared with those in the pair-pen treatment directed less behaviour to their piglets (e.g. investigation of piglets: Day 1, 7.2 vs. 10.0% of observations, P < 0.01; vocalisation to piglets: Day 1, 9.0 vs. 12.2% of observations, P < 0.05) and were less responsive while feeding at the trough to the loud vocalisations of one of their piglets (e.g. 57 vs. 89% of sows at Day 3 in the crate vs. pair-pen treatments stopped feeding in response to the piglet's vocalisations, P < 0.05). The results suggest that the gestation environment had only minimal, or at most short-term, effects on the behaviour of sows and piglets in early lactation. In contrast the farrowing environment had marked effects, particularly on sow behaviour. The present experiment demonstrates that modifying the farrowing environment affected maternal behaviour in sows. However, there is little evidence to support the hypothesis that increased maternal behaviour was associated with improved piglet survival.
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The behaviour of 174 sows (parities 1–10) in commercial farrowing crates was recorded at 10-min intervals around parturition. Approximately half of the sows received regular applications of sawdust on the floor of their crate during the pre-partum period (SD treatment). Control treatment (Con) sows did not receive sawdust.Younger sows (parities 1–3) in the SD treatment spent less (P < 0.01) time belly lying from 24 to 16 h pre-partum, were more (P < 0.05) active in the last 8 h pre-partum and less (P < 0.05) active during parturition than in the Con treatment. More root/nose/paw behaviour occurred during 24 to 16 h (P < 0.01) and the last 8 h (P < 0.005) pre-partum, and more (P < 0.03) feeder-directed behaviour occurred in the last 8 h pre-partum, in the SD than Con treatment. Sows in the SD treatment compared with sows in the Con treatment had a shorter (P < 0.05) mean duration of parturition (159 and 201 min per sow) and a lower (P < 0.01) incidence of piglets that were overlayed during parturition and the subsequent 6 h (2.4% and 21.1% of sows, respectively). While there were no differences in the proportion of litters of younger sows that contained stillborn piglets of the class intra-partum death (IPD: 26.1 and 31.6% of sows), there was a difference (P < 0.02) in the ratio of litters containing 0, 1 or multiple IPD per litter: (SD: 73%, 27% and 0% vs. Con: 68%, 16% and 16% of litters, respectively). As a consequence of the lower occurrence of IPD, litter size born alive was greater (P < 0.03) in the SD than Con treatment (10.5 and 10.0 piglets).Older sows (parities 4 and above) in the SD treatment spent less time sitting (P < 0.05) and more time side lying (P < 0.06), and performed less (P < 0.01) bar biting during the last 8 h pre-partum than older sows in the Con treatment.In conclusion, the application of sawdust during the pre-partum period appeared to stimulate prepartum activity in younger sows, including root/nose/paw behaviour, which may, in turn, positively affect the process of parturition and reduce overlaying of piglets, both of which are relevant to increasing piglet survival. The differing results for older s