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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Research Project #428802

Research Project: Development of a Decision Support Tool For Improving Sow Welfare During a Heat Stress Event

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-013-47-A
Project Type: Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: May 15, 2018
End Date: Apr 15, 2021

Objective:
The objective of this research is to develop a thermal index based on sow perception, physiological response, and productivity to improve management practices and animal welfare.

Approach:
In order to develop a thermal index for swine based on sow perception, physiological response, and productivity this project will be conducted in 4 phases, each designed to evaluate a different aspect of the animal response to heat stress in order to develop a thermal index that producers can ultimately use to improve management practices during times of thermal stress. In the first phase we will examine sow temperature preferences using behavioral analysis to test animal perception of heat stress. In the second phase, we will determine the physiological and thermoregulatory response of sows to different levels of heat stress based on results from the phase 1 perception study. During phase 3 we will use data from phase 1 and phase 2 to develop a thermal index model and this model will be tested in a production environment to determine its accuracy. Finally, phase 4 will be the development of a user friendly thermal index tool that producers can use to assess the level of heat stress their sows may be experiencing based on our model.