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Title: The maternal behaviour of the pig in the farrowing crate
Author: Appleyard, Stephen John
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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Piglet-weaning mortality is an enduring problem for the pig industry but is likely to be strongly influenced by the maternal behaviour and overall rearing ability, of the sow. Farrowing crates are the most common method of housing lactating sows in this and many other countries. However, farrowing crates pose a welfare dilemma: they are aversive for sows prior to parturition but limit the number of piglet crushing mortalities. One solution to this dilemma would be to breed sows better adapted to the crate system. To this end, a longitudinal breed study was set up that observed the behaviour of individual sows over their first two parities, in farrowing crates both with and without straw. Consistent behavioural traits are identified, most notably sow-piglet interactions and posture changing, and genetic influences are inferred from breed differences. The mean number of still-births and crushing mortalities per litter are modelled for non-behavioural influences. Season and litter size feature strongly for both these models. The behavioural characteristics of crushing and savaging sows are described and discussed in relation to functional explanations and possible causal mechanisms. An argument is developed that identifies piglet-savaging behaviour with being hypersensitive to restriction during pre-farrowing nest-building, resulting in physiological changes influencing the progress of parturition. Sows possess behavioural mechanisms to reduce the risk of crushing, which are modified by the farrowing crate in both positive and negative ways.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available