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Title: The effects of non-uniform environmental conditions on piglet crushing and maternal behavior of sows

item MORELLO, GABRIELA - Purdue University
item RICHERT, BRIAN - Purdue University
item Lay Jr, Donald
item RODRIGUES, LUIZ HENRIQUE - Universidade De Campinas (UNICAMP)
item Marchant, Jeremy

Submitted to: International Society of Applied Ethology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/13/2013
Publication Date: 6/2/2013
Citation: Morello, G.M., Richert, B.T., Lay Jr, D.C., Rodrigues, L.A., Marchant Forde, J.N. 2013. The effects of non-uniform environmental conditions on piglet crushing and maternal behavior of sows. International Society of Applied Ethology. Proceedings ISAE.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Crushing is one of the main causes of piglet death in swine farrowing systems. Studies have shown a wide variability of piglet mortality rate among distinct litters, which has been associated with maternal ability of sows. In an effort to understand factors that affect sow maternal ability, this study aimed to evaluate how non-uniform environmental conditions within commercial farrowing rooms affect piglet mortality and maternal behavior of sows. Hobo (U12) and sound pressure (Sentry) loggers were placed in ten different locations within each of two farrowing rooms at the Purdue Animal Sciences Research and Education Center. Loggers were placed at the sow's level, recording temperature, relative-humidity, light and noise intensities every one minute, during November (2012) through January (2013). Environmental data were evaluated for 48 hours post farrowing. Production data records were retrieved for the months studied, from 2008 through 2012. Crushing and total piglet mortality rates were evaluated as functions of parity, crate location, month of year and total number of piglets born alive, through the GLM procedure on SAS, considering 90% confidence level. Piglet mortality was affected by Parity (p=0.08), month (p<0.01), total live born piglets (p<0.01) and crate location (p=0.08). The highest average mortality rate (1.88 piglets/sow) was obtained during December months. Parity nine sows tended (p<0.10) to crush more piglets (1.4 piglet/sow) than parity 3 or less sows (<0.5 piglet/sow). Temperature differences between crates were up to 5C (range 19-24C), whereas relative humidity variations were up to 10% (range 35-45%) and average light intensity measurements were up to 250 Lux different (range 50-320 lux). Maternal behavior of sows was recorded and will be evaluated for four crates that presented distinct environmental conditions within each same room. Results indicated a need for a better understanding of the relationship between micro-climates and behavior of sows and piglet mortality.