Effect of pre- and post-partum sow activity on maternal behaviour and piglet weight gain 24 h after birth
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Within the 24 h prior to parturition sows are active and motivated to perform nest-building behaviour. The aim of this study was to investigate (i) whether pre-partum activity, could predict maternal behaviour 24. h post-partum (pp) and weight gain 24. h pp, and (ii) whether post-partum activity, affect parts of the maternal behaviour 24 pp and piglet weight gain 24. h pp. Fifteen sows were housed in modified straw-bedded -walk-around- farrowing crates. Pre-partum nesting events and postural changes were recorded 24. h before parturition. During parturition the number of nesting behaviour and latency of the first sucking of the whole litter were recorded. Number of postural changes and duration of udder access were recorded 24. h after birth of the first piglet (BFP) during three time periods (during parturition, from the end of parturition to 12. h after BFP, and 12-24 h after BFP). The duration of suckling and sow responsiveness on the playback of piglets‘ scream were recorded during two time periods (from the end of parturition to 12 h after BFP, and 12-24. h after BFP). Piglet BW gain was estimated 24. h after BFP. Data were analysed using proc GLM and MIXED and the probability of sow responsiveness using proc GENMOD in SAS. Pre-partum nesting 4 h before BFP was related with longer latency of the first sucking, with shorter duration of suckling and with lower piglet BW gain. More nesting after BFP was associated with a lower probability to react towards the playback of piglets´ screams. However more postural changes after BFP were associated with a higher probability to react towards the playback of piglets´ screams. More postural changes during parturition were related with higher piglet BW gain, but more postural changes during 12-24. h after BFP were related with lower piglet BW gain. No other relationships were detected between pre-partum nesting and maternal behaviour within the 24. h after BFP.
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