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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #195979


item Kanaan, V
item Lay, Jr, Donald - Don
item Richert, B
item Garner, J
item Pajor, E

Submitted to: Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/15/2004
Publication Date: 6/18/2004
Citation: Kanaan, V.T., Lay Jr, D.C., Richert, B.T., Garner, J.P., Pajor, E.A. The effect of co-mingling litters on piglets' growth, suckling behavior and responses to behavioral tests. Applied Animal Behavior Science. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Co-mingling litters prior to weaning alters piglet development and ability to cope with post-stress. The purpose of this study was to determine how co-mingling litters affected piglet growth, suckling behavior and responses to behavioral tests used to measure coping abilities before weaning. Thirty sows and their respective litters were housed in standard farrowing crates until piglets were 12 days old. At 13 days of age, the partition between two neighboring pens was removed for 20 litters allowing piglets to interact (2 litters per group). The remaining litters served as controls. Three piglets from each litter were used for data collection. Piglets were weighed and the presence or absence of ear injuries was recorded on days 2, 4, 9, 12, 15 and 18 after birth. There were no differences in piglets' weight gain between treatments. Injury scores were more abundant in co-mingled litters on d 15 but these differences disappeared by day 18. Suckling behavior was recorded on days 5, 8, 10, 14, 16 and 18 after birth. There was no difference in teat fidelity, suckling frequency and mother fidelity between treatments. The social challenge, isolation test and back-test were performed before and after co-mingling. There were no treatment affect on piglets' response to the isolation test and back-test. Co-mingling had a significant affect on piglets' response to the social challenge. Co-mingled piglets showed a longer latency for the first aggressive interaction, spent more time in proximity to one another and performed less single bites than control piglets. In addition, the duration and frequency of aggressive interactions was lower in co-mingled piglets than control piglets. Co-mingling did not affect the frequency of single head thrusts, escape attempts, or oral-nasal contact during the social challenge. Our results suggest that co-mingling litters affect the development of piglets' social behavior, as indicated by responses to social challenge.