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Behaviour and productivity of sows and piglets in a family system and in farrowing crates

, : Behaviour and productivity of sows and piglets in a family system and in farrowing crates. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 50(2): 135-145

The behaviour and productivity of 48 sows and their litters were compared in a family system (FS) and in farrowing crates (FC) for 4 weeks post partum during day-time. FS sows were housed in groups of four in enclosures with straw-bedded, voluntary-accessed farrowing pens and an outer communal area. Occupancy of farrowing pens by FS sows fell from 92.5% on day 1 to 35.5% by day 28. FS sows spent less time lying inactive (47.0 vs. 59.5%; P lt 0.01), showed more substrate-directed behaviour (11.3 vs. 2.2%; P lt 0.01) and tended to show less pen-directed behaviour than FC sows. Overall, there tended to be more suckling in FS with longer (P lt 0.05) but less frequent bouts (P lt 0.05). FS sows responded to play-back of piglet distress vocalisations by standing up more frequently (76.1 vs. 34.9%; P lt 0.01). FS piglets spent more time in the heated creeps (65.8 vs. 28.2%; P lt 0.05), lying on their sides (50.7 vs. 31.5%; P lt 0.05) and playing (0.9 vs. 0.1%; P lt 0.05). Pen-directed behaviour was greater (0.8 vs. 0.2%; P lt 0.05) and chewing the sow tended to be greater in FC piglets. There were no significant differences in piglet mortality for the two systems. Piglet growth rates were higher for FS in week 2 (P lt 0.05). Maternal behaviour was improved in FS which may have resulted in productivity benefits.

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Accession: 002763530

DOI: 10.1016/0168-1591(96)01075-1

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