Mixing aggression intensity is associated with age at first service and floor type during gestation, with implications for sow reproductive performance
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CitationM.E. Lagoda, L.A. Boyle, J. Marchewka, J.A. Calderón Díaz, Mixing aggression intensity is associated with age at first service and floor type during gestation, with implications for sow reproductive performance, Animal, Volume 15, Issue 3, 2021, 100158, ISSN 1751-7311, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.animal.2020.100158.
AbstractAggression resulting from mixing to establish a dominance hierarchy is a major welfare concern for group-housed sows. The associated stress can negatively impact aspects of reproductive performance. Objectives of this study were to investigate associations between 1) age at first service (AFS) and mixing aggression intensity in first parity sows, 2) mixing aggression intensity and reproductive performance within and between parity one and parity two, and 3) mixing aggression intensity, floor type during gestation and reproductive performance. Gilts (n =160, hereafter referred to as sows) were mixed into stable groups of eight unfamiliar individuals approximately 4 days after artificial insemination, housed on fully slatted concrete (CON; n =80) floor uncovered or covered with rubber slat mats (RUB; n =80), and followed through two parities. Skin lesions (SLMIX; a proxy for the intensity of mixing aggression), were scored post mixing in each parity according to severity (0=no lesions to 5=severe lesions) on five body regions (ear, neck, hindquarter, rump, and belly) on the left and right sides, and at the tail/anogenital region. Total SLMIX score was calculated for each sow. Data on reproductive performance traits were acquired retrospectively from farm records for both parities. Two analyses were performed: 1) data from each parity were analysed separately and 2) SLMIX score in parity one was used to predict reproductive performance in parity two. Lower AFS was associated with a lower SLMIX score in parity one (P =0.031). There was no association between SLMIX score and reproductive performance in parity one, while sows with higher SLMIX score in parity two had a higher proportion of piglets dead during lactation (P =0.027) and a longer cycle length (P =0.003) in parity two. Sows with higher SLMIX scores in parity one had more non-productive days (P <0.001) in parity two. Concrete sows had a higher SLMIX score than RUB sows in parity one (P =0.015), but not in parity two. In addition, CON sows had a higher proportion of piglets born dead (P =0.013) compared with RUB sows in parity two. Mixing aggression has a negative influence on reproductive performance within parities, and it may also have a long-term negative carry-over effect on reproductive performance in subsequent parities. Serving gilts at younger ages could help to minimize the intensity of aggression at mixing, while housing on rubber flooring has beneficial implications for their reproductive performance.
FunderTeagasc Walsh Fellowship
Grant Numberref. 0370
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Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of The Animal Consortium.