Cortisol, behavioral responses, and injury scores of sows housed in gestation stalls
Leena Anil, BVSc, MVSc, PhD; Sukumarannair S. Anil, BVSc, MVSc, PhD; John Deen, DVM, MSc, PhD; Samuel K. Baidoo, MSc, PhD
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Objective: To assess welfare status of 25 pregnant sows housed in gestation stalls, in terms of cortisol concentrations, behavior responses, and injury scores.
Materials and methods: Data were collected on gestation days 5, 56, and 108. Time-lapse video recording for 24-hour periods was used to observe behavior at each data point. Salivary cortisol concentrations were assessed using radioimmunoassay. Injuries were scored individually and added to provide a total injury score (TIS).
Results: Cortisol concentrations were lower on gestation day 56 than on other days, and TIS was higher on day 108 than on days 5 and 56 (P < .05). Time spent lying was highest on day 108 (P < .05). Sows spent more time on exploration and active behavior on day 56 than on days 5 and 108 (P < .05). Time for the transition from sitting to lying was higher on day 108 than on day 56 (P < .05). Frequencies of overall postural change and of standing or sitting to lying and lying to sitting were highest on day 5 (P < .05). Frequency of lying to standing was higher on day 5 than on day 108 (P < .05). Body weight was negatively correlated with time spent on exploration and active behavior and standing, and positively correlated with time spent lying (P < .05).
Implications: Welfare of sows in gestation stalls appears to be more compromised during early and late stages of gestation. Providing larger sows with larger stalls might improve welfare.
Keywords: welfare, gestation, cortisol, behavior
Cite as: Anil L, Anil SS, Deen J, et al. Cortisol, behavioral responses, and injury scores of sows housed in gestation stalls. J Swine Health Prod 2006;14(4):196-201.
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