Effect of crate opening from day 3 postpartum to weaning on nursing and suckling behaviour in domestic pigs
|Cathegory||Scientific publication in impacted journals|
Temporary crating may be a more acceptable housing system for lactating sows than permanent crating and loose-housing because it combines benefits of both systems while reducing some of their limitations. The aim of this study was to assess the short- (24h post crate opening) and long-term (day 25 postpartum) effects of opening the farrowing crate from day 3 postpartum to weaning on nursing and suckling behaviour. Sows were crated from 5 days prepartum either to weaning (permanently crated group; N=14) or 3 days postpartum (temporarily crated group; N=13). Sows and their litters were observed on days 4 and 25. Duration of pre- and post-massages, nursing termination, number of piglets missing milk ejection and number of piglets fighting during pre- and post- massages were scored. Nursing success (i.e. with or without milk ejection) was also recorded. Data were analysed using PROC GLM and PROC GENMOD of SAS including housing, litter size and parity as fixed effects. Nursing behaviour did not differ between sows housed in temporary crates and those housed in permanent crates on days 4 and 25 postpartum. There was only a housing effect on day 25; with sows having longer pre-massages in permanent crates (P < 0.05). Suckling behaviour was overall similar between treatments. Sows with larger litters terminated post-massages more often (P < 0.05), allowed shorter post-massages (P < 0.05) on day 4, and had more piglets miss milk ejection on days 4 and 25 (P < 0.05). In conclusion, the results of this study showed that housing had a very limited effect on nursing and suckling behaviour. Sow and piglet behaviours were not altered after crate opening (short-term effect) and nursing was to some extent calmer (shorter pre-massages and more piglets attended post-massages) in temporary crates on day 25. Increased litter size impaired nursing and suckling behaviour of sows and piglets independently of the housing system.
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