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ARS Home » Plains Area » Lubbock, Texas » Cropping Systems Research Laboratory » Livestock Issues Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #316479

Research Project: Improving Immunity, Health, and Well-Being in Cattle and Swine

Location: Livestock Issues Research

Title: Environmental temperature influence on behaviors of outdoor gestating sows

item RACHUONYO, HAROLD - University Of Eldoret
item KIM, SUNG - North Carolina State University
item Morrow, Julie
item Dailey, Jeffery
item MCGLONE, JOHN - Texas Tech University

Submitted to: Meeting Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/22/2015
Publication Date: N/A
Citation: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Models quantitatively predict consequences for a particular animal to behave in a certain way when pitted against the environment. Outdoor gestating sow behaviours including feeding, rooting, wallowing, hut usage were studied as influenced by factors such as temperature, pasture region, time of day, location of some key points (feeding and wallowing areas) in the pasture. Data collected were used to model the behaviours. High temperatures results in bimodal diurnal activity of early morning and late evening. Warm temperatures encourage wallow and hut usage. Rooting activity takes precedence when ambient temperatures are low. Extremely low or high ambient temperatures cause inactivity as animals try to find shelter, wallow, and shade. Constructed models on behaviours reflected field observations for obvious reasons. Information provided in this manuscript will be of interest to scientists working in the area of animal welfare and animal behavior, as well as to swine producers considering the use of outdoor gestation management systems.

Technical Abstract: The influence of seasonal air temperatures on behavior of outdoor pregnant sows was evaluated and modeled using 91 sows during 24-h observations in winter, spring, and summer seasons. Minimum and maximum temperatures ranged between –10.7 to 39.2 degree C, respectively, during data collection. Each of the 0.4-ha pastures was divided into hub, middle, wallow, outside, and feeding areas to determine variations in usage of regions within the pasture. A hut and wallow-pool were located in the middle section of each pasture. Sows had free access across all pasture regions. Standing, lying, rooting, drinking, and feeding behaviors of sows and number in each region were recorded by trained observers using a 10-min scan technique for 24-h periods. Data were analyzed using logistic regression procedures and the equations derived were utilized to construct dynamic models for behavioral states including (1) active behaviors (standing, rooting, feeding, and drinking); (2) wallowing behaviors (standing, lying, drinking, and rooting around or in the wallow area); (3) rooting behaviors; and (4) use of the hut. During temperatures of 15 degree C and below, sows engaged in active and rooting behaviors during mid-day while during higher temperatures active behaviors were higher during morning and evening h. During cool temperatures, sows spent morning and late afternoon hours inside huts, whereas during high temperatures, sows spent more (P < 0.01) time in hut or wallow during middle of the day. Sows used hut for approximately 59% during day and almost all night. The outside region was used for 10% during daytime, especially for rooting, while the hub and the wallow regions were used less. Rooting activity was higher (P < 0.02) in the outside region than other regions during cool temperatures. These models are useful in identifying behavioral changes over a wide range of seasonal temperatures and in describing sow motivational changes over seasons, especially in a sustainable outdoor production system.