Friends forever? Inter-individual distances in group housed lactating sows

I. Reimert, T. Van Maurik, S.E. van Nieuwamerongen, C.M.C. van der Peet-Schwering, J.E. Bolhuis

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract

Abstract

Group housing of pregnant sows is common practice in the EU, but during lactation sows are usually housed individually. However, if sows would prefer to be around and interact with other adults during lactation, group housing would with respect to sow welfare constitute a more suitable practice. Therefore, as a first step, we studied the relative closeness between sows in a multi-suckling system (87 m2) for five sows and their litters that consisted of five individual farrowing pens (7 m2), and a communal lying (32 m2), dunging (13 m2) and feeding area (7 m2). In 8 batches (40 sows), the inter-sow distance (i.e. <1m apart, 1-5 m apart or >5m) was determined with 10-min scan sampling over 24 h on D-5 (one day after sows entered the system), D5, D12 (2 days before and, respectively, 5 days after the piglets gained access to the communal area) and on D24 of lactation. Sows were considered to be close if they were within 1m of each other. Association between each pair of sows was calculated by using the Index of Association (IA) of Martin & Bateson (2007), with an IA of 0 vs. 1 indicating no vs. complete association. The overall average IA was 0.08 (SD: 0.10) and the lowest and highest IA were 0 and 0.53, respectively. IA differed substantially between the 4 observation days and between the 8 batches. These results will be discussed in relation to day of lactation, and the health, behaviour and productivity of these sows.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAbstract book of the 34th International Ethological Conference (ICE), Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASSAB), Australasian Evolution Society (AES), and Australasia, New Zealand and Africa Region of Applied Ethology
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventBehaviour 2015: joint meeting of the 34th International Ethological Conference (ICE), Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASSAB), Australasian Evolution Society (AES), and Australasia, New Zealand and Africa Region of Applied Ethology - Cairns, Australia
Duration: 9 Aug 201514 Aug 2015

Conference

ConferenceBehaviour 2015: joint meeting of the 34th International Ethological Conference (ICE), Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASSAB), Australasian Evolution Society (AES), and Australasia, New Zealand and Africa Region of Applied Ethology
CountryAustralia
CityCairns
Period9/08/1514/08/15

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Reimert, I., Van Maurik, T., van Nieuwamerongen, S. E., van der Peet-Schwering, C. M. C., & Bolhuis, J. E. (2015). Friends forever? Inter-individual distances in group housed lactating sows. In Abstract book of the 34th International Ethological Conference (ICE), Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASSAB), Australasian Evolution Society (AES), and Australasia, New Zealand and Africa Region of Applied Ethology [25]