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Stress, nest building and maternal behaviour in sows - AW0118

The imposition of farrowing crates on commercial sows (usually from 1 week prior to farrowing to 3-4 weeks afterwards) remains an area of animal welfare concern. Faliure to legislate is mainly due to a lack of a clear alternative that is economical, protects piglets from crush injuries and is non-stressful to sows. The latter problem has been the most intractable since we know that parturient sows move rapidly through a series of physiological and behavioural states, upon which environment has differing effects. The objective of this proposal is to investigate the mechanisms which produce these behavioural changes, particularly the development of nest-building behaviours and maternal behaviour towards offspring. The results will then be used to more clearly define the minimum environmental conditions that satisfy the behavioural needs of partuitent sows. Satisfying the requirements of piglets for food and protection are a vital componment of a successful welfare-friendly farrowing system. Our studies will therefore include an examination of the mechanisms underlying maternal behaviour in the pig and the potential for environment to influence its establishment and subsequent piglet viability.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Stress, nest building and maternal behaviour in sows   (92k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 1997

To: 2001

Cost: £397,233
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Babraham Institute, Cambridge (BBSRC)
Animal Welfare              
Livestock Farming              
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare