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The effects of genotype on physiological and behavioural responses related to the welfare of pregnant pigs






Applied Animal Behaviour Science 20(3-4): 287-296

The effects of genotype on physiological and behavioural responses related to the welfare of pregnant pigs

Plasma free-corticosteroid concentrations, aggressive behaviour and levels of motivation to socially interact and explore a novel arena were observed in an experiment to examine whether differences previously observed between pigs in neck-tecthers and groups are shown by pigs of different genotypes. Thirty-two pregnant gilts of 2 genotypes were housed in in either tether stalls of groups. The 2 genotypes were mainly Large White .times. Landrace stock, but one had been intensively selected on the basis of growth performance. Genotypic differences had previously been observed in protein and energy metabolism, and the present experiment also showed differences in their behaviour (increased activity and a decreased motivation to socially interact in the intensively selected genotype) and free-corticosteroid concentrations (40% lower in the intensively selected genotype). In spite of these differences, the behavioural and physiological responses to housing treatments were similar. In tether stalls, pigs of both genotypes had a higher frequency of retaliation and a lower frequency of withdrawal in response to aggressive interactions than group-housed pigs. There were 50 and 56% increases in free-corticosteroid concentrations in response to tether housing in the 2 genotypes, providing evidence of a chronic stress response of magnitude sufficient to suggest a risk to welfare in the design of tether stall used in this experiment.

Accession: 002249192

DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(88)90053-6

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