PubMed | 1ISA Institute Superieur dAgriculture
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Animal : an international journal of animal bioscience | Year: 2012
Piglet crushing remains a major problem in pig production. Reduced crushing might be obtained through genetic selection on sow behavioural traits. The aim of the study was to assess the relationship between behavioural responses at 6 months of age, around farrowing, and sows reproductive performance including crushing levels. At 6 months of age, behavioural responses of 75 nulliparous sows were observed both during behavioural tests to human presence and to the presence of a novel object in their home pen, and their responses when placed in a weighing device. At first farrowing, nervousness of the sows was observed when placed in the farrowing crate 1 week before and the day of farrowing, as well as their fear responses when approached by a human from behind or at the front of the farrowing crate. At 6 months of age, escape from a human tended to be correlated with the reactivity in the weighing device (rs = 0.21, P = 0.09). Around first farrowing, the withdrawal reaction when a human approached at the front was correlated with the fear response when approached from behind and the nervousness of the sow in the crate (rs = 0.29, P < 0.05; rs = 0.37, P < 0.01). The fear response when approached from behind was correlated with nervousness in the crate and around farrowing (rs = 0.70, P < 0.001; rs = 0.25, P < 0.05), and nervousness in the crate was significantly correlated with the nervousness around farrowing (rs = 0.34, P < 0.01). The escape from a human at 6 months was correlated with withdrawal when approached from the front before farrowing (rs = 0.38, P < 0.01) and with nervousness of the sow in the crate (rs = 0.24, P < 0.05). The number of piglets crushed at first farrowing was correlated with the latency to approach a novel object at 6 months and nervousness around farrowing (rs = -0.27, P < 0.05; rs = 0.28, P < 0.05), and tended to be correlated with the escape behaviour from human at 6 months and withdrawal away from human presence before farrowing (rs = 0.21, P = 0.09; rs = 0.22, P = 0.08). These results suggest that behavioural responses to humans and during management practices of nulliparous sows at 6 months of age are, to some extent, related with their behaviour around farrowing and crushing levels of piglets at farrowing.