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

ArticleinApplied Animal Behaviour Science 17(1-2):69-76 · April 1987with10 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(87)90009-8
The behaviour of 6 Swedish Landrace gilts in enclosures of 7 and 13 ha was studied for 7 h per day during 7 days around farrowing time. A significant increase in the frequency of locomotion was recorded 2 days before farrowing. The distances walked, as measured by number of coordinates crossed per day, increased during the same period. Average distances to nearest neighbours increased significantly 1 day before farrowing. The farrowing nests, which were built on the day before farrowing or on the farrowing day, were all situated well away from the normal home range. It is suggested that the motivation for this increase in mobility, with the apparent function to isolate the nest site from the rest of the herd, is the explanation of the increse in activity frequently recorded in sows in pens during the days before farrowing. The functional significance and the practical consequences of these behaviour patterns are discussed.
    • "This suggests that post-partum nesting may not be as important an indicator for postpartum maternal behaviour. Further evidence for this is that some post-partum nesting seems to be a natural behaviour, as it has been observed in free-ranging domestic pigs during the first 24 h post-partum (Jensen et al., 1987), suggesting that mothers improved the nest after farrowing. It has been suggested that sow inactivity during parturition and during the first few hours after parturition may be an important aspect of good maternal care, as it reduces the risk of crushing, while at the same time allows piglet to access the udder, providing the piglets with both colostrum and warmth (Jarvis et al., 1999; Pedersen et al., 2003). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Within the 24 h prior to parturition sows are active and motivated to perform nest-building behaviour. The aim of this study was to investigate: (i) whether pre-partum activity (e.g. nesting and postural changes) could predict maternal behaviour 24 h post-partum (pp) and weight gain 24 h pp, and (ii) whether post-partum activity (post-partum nesting and postural changes) affect parts of the maternal behaviour 24 pp (e.g. first suckling, udder access, suckling duration) and piglet weight gain 24 h pp. Fifteen sows were housed in modified straw-bedded “walk-around” farrowing crates. Pre-partum nesting events and postural changes were recorded 24 h before parturition. During parturition the number of nesting behaviour and latency of the first sucking of the whole litter were recorded. Number of postural changes and duration of udder access were recorded 24 h after birth of the first piglet (BFP) during three time periods (during parturition, from the end of parturition to 12 h after BFP, and 12-24 h after BFP). The duration of suckling and sow responsiveness on the playback of piglets’ scream were recorded during two time periods (from the end of parturition to 12 h after BFP, and 12-24 h after BFP). Piglet BW gain was estimated 24 h after BFP. Data were analysed using proc GLM and MIXED and the probability of sow responsiveness using proc GENMOD in SAS. Pre-partum nesting 4 h before BFP was related with longer latency of the first sucking (P < 0.01), with shorter duration of suckling (P < 0.05) and with lower piglet BW gain (P < 0.05). More nesting after BFP was associated with a lower probability to react towards the playback of piglets’ screams (P < 0.05). However more postural changes after BFP were associated with a higher probability to react towards the playback of piglets’ screams (P < 0.05). More postural changes during parturition were related with higher piglet BW gain (P < 0.05), but more postural changes during 12-24 h after BFP were related with lower piglet BW gain (P < 0.01). No other relationships were detected between pre-partum nesting and maternal behaviour within the 24 h after BFP. High occurrence of pre-partum nesting 4 h before parturition, but not more pre-partum postural changes, may be an early indicator for impaired suckling behaviour and lower weight gain during the first 24 h post-partum.
    Article · Feb 2015
    • "By contrast, the males keep isolated or form bachelor groups, which associate with the female group at times when sows are sexually receptive13141516. Like the wild boar, a domesticated, free-ranging sow allowed to express her natural behaviour isolates from the group for some weeks around farrowing and subsequently returns to the female group [11,12]. Under these conditions, weaning is a gradual process in which the contact between the sow and her offspring continuously decreases. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Since January 1 2013, group housing of sows has been compulsory within the European Union (EU) in all pig holdings with more than ten sows. Sows and gilts need to be kept in groups from 4 weeks after service to 1 week before the expected time of farrowing (Article 3(4) of Directive 2008/120/EC on the protection of pigs). The legislation regarding group housing was adopted already in 2001 and a long transitional period was allowed to give member states and producers enough time for adaptation. Even so, group housing of sows still seems to be uncommon in the EU, and is also uncommon in commercial pig farming systems in the rest of the world. In this review we share our experience of the Swedish 25 years of animal welfare legislation stipulating that sows must be loose-housed which de facto means group housed. The two most important concerns related to reproductive function among group-housed sows are the occurrence of lactational oestrus when sows are group-housed during lactation, and the stress that is associated with group housing during mating and gestation. Field and clinical observations in non-lactating, group-housed sows in Sweden suggest that by making basic facts known about the pig reproductive physiology related to mating, we might achieve application of efficient batch-wise breeding without pharmacological interventions. Group housing of lactating sows has some production disadvantages and somewhat lower productivity would likely have to be expected. Recordings of behavioural indicators in different housing systems suggest a lower welfare level in stalled animals compared with group-housed ones. However, there are no consistent effects on the reproductive performance associated with different housing systems. Experimental studies suggest that the most sensitive period, regarding disturbance of reproductive functions by external stressors, is the time around oestrus. We conclude that by keeping sows according to the pig welfare-friendly Directive 2008/120/EC, it is possible to combine group-housing of sows with good reproductive performance and productivity. However, substantially increased research and development is needed to optimize these systems.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014
    • "Weaning is likewise a gradual event, in effect, natural weaning starts early in lactation. The frequency of suckling declines gradually from the first week, and the number of suckling terminated by the sow increases, perhaps indicating that the sows become less inclined to nurse [3]. Piglets begin to consume solid food from around 4 weeks postpartum. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objectives Define and discuss the six phases of farrowing behavior for the sow and her piglets.
    Full-text · Technical Report · Jan 2011 · Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
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