Effect of boar contact and housing conditions on estrus expression in weaned sows

P. Langendijk, N.M. Soede, B. Kemp

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Abstract

Our objective was to study the effects of housing conditions and the amount of boar contact in a protocol for estrus detection on estrus detection rate, timing of onset of estrus, duration of estrus, and timing of ovulation. After weaning, 130 multiparous sows were assigned to three treatments: HI, in which 52 sows were housed individually in crates and received a high amount of boar contact during estrus detection; HG, in which 52 sows were housed in groups and received a high amount of boar contact; and NI, in which 26 sows were housed individually in crates and received a normal amount of boar contact. Estrus detection was performed every 8 h. For each treatment, the standing response to three levels of stimuli was recorded: a back pressure test (BPT) by a man (man-estrus), presence of a teaser boar (spontaneous-estrus), and BPT in the presence of a teaser boar (boar-estrus). In addition, for HI and HG, the standing response to a fourth level of stimuli was recorded: BPT in a detection-mating area, surrounded by four boar pens (DMA-estrus). To detect ovulation, ultrasonography was performed every 4 h during estrus. Of 117 sows that ovulated, 46␜howed man-estrus, 56␜pontaneous-estrus, 90␋oar-estrus, and 97MA-estrus. Mean onset of man-estrus was 107 h (SD 26) after weaning, of spontaneous-estrus was 106 h (SD 22) after weaning, of boar-estrus was 99 h (SD 21) after weaning, and of DMA-estrus was 93 h (SD 22) after weaning. Duration of man-estrus was 22 h (SD 14), of spontaneous-estrus was 29 h (SD 16), of boar-estrus was 42 h (SD 20), and of DMA-estrus was 55 h (SD 18). The high amount of boar contact reduced the number of sows showing man-estrus (P < .05; 41␏or HG and HI vs 68␏or NI) and reduced duration of boar-estrus (P < .05; 43 h for HG and HI vs 52 h for NI). Duration of DMA-estrus for HG and HI was similar to duration of boar-estrus for NI. Onset of estrus and timing of ovulation were not affected by amount of boar contact. Group housing did not affect detection rate and duration of estrus, but it did postpone average onset of estrus by 10 h, paralleled by a postponement of ovulation. In conclusion, estrus expression is similar at the highest level of stimuli in different protocols for estrus detection. Including higher levels of stimuli in a protocol reduces estrus expression at lower levels of stimuli. This reduction indicates adaptation of sows to a given protocol for estrus detection. Group housing can delay ovulation and related behavioral estrus.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-878
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Volume78
Publication statusPublished - 2000

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