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Behavioral Time Budgets for Sows Before and After Farrowing

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2022 ASABE Annual International Meeting  2200950.(doi:10.13031/aim.202200950)
Authors:   Asya P Macon, Dr. Sudhendu Sharma, Eric Vander Woude, Jr, Bernard Lee, Dr. Eric Markvicka, Dr. Gary Rohrer, Dr. Tami Brown-Brandl
Keywords:   Behavior, farrowing, movement, piglets, PWM, sows

Abstract. Pre-weaning piglet mortality is a major economic and welfare issue in swine production. Farrowing crates have been a proven method to decrease pre-weaning mortality by restricting the sow‘s movement until weaning and thus by reducing the risk of overlay crushing of the piglet. It‘s important to understand sow and piglet behaviors as well as sow posture changes throughout the lactation period. The objectives of this study were to 1) determine the changes in sow postures and behaviors prior to farrowing (2 days prior), early post farrowing (2-days), and mid-lactation (9-days,) and to assess the piglets at the ages of 2 days and 9 days of age. A total of nine Landrace x Yorkshire sows were randomly assigned to one of three different farrowing crate layouts: standard, offset, and diagonal layout. The behavior of sows and piglets was captured in three different 5-week periods, three sows each period. Video and time-lapse images were captured throughout the 5 week-lactation, using two different systems: time-lapse cameras and a security camera system. Differences between two days before, two days after, and nine days after farrowing were found in the amount of time lying left and right, lying other, sitting, standing, eating, and drinking. Sows were found to be more active at pre-farrowing suggesting restlessness and least active at early post-farrowing and 1-week post-farrowing. There were no differences in piglets resting, but there were higher occurrences in piglets active and nursing nine days after farrowing compared to two days after farrowing.

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