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Parity Influences the Demeanor of Sows in Group Housing
- Clarke, Taya, Pluske, John R., Miller, David W., Collins, Teresa, Fleming, Patricia A.
- Journal of applied animal welfare science 2018 v.21 no.1 pp. 17-26
- animal welfare, avoidance behavior, group housing, mixing, nonverbal communication, pregnancy, sows
- Across the globe, producers are moving from individual housing to group housing for sows during gestation. Producers typically group sows of a range of parities together, although the impacts are largely unknown. This study examined the behavioral expression at mixing for young, midparity, and older sows. Ten mixed-parity groups were filmed at mixing on a commercial piggery. One-minute clips were edited from continuous footage where focal sows of known parity could be identified, and scored for qualitative behavioral expression. Parity 2 and 6 sows were more calm/tired than Parity 4 sows, who were more active/energetic. Parity 2 sows were more curious/inquisitive than Parity 4 and 6 sows, who were more anxious/frustrated. Correlations between qualitative behavioral expression and activity indicated sows scored as more calm/tired spent a greater proportion of time standing, while sows scored as more active/energetic spent more time performing avoidance behavior. Different body language is likely to reflect physical or affective differences in how sows cope with mixing.