Prepartum nest-building has an impact on postpartum nursing performance and maternal behaviour in early lactating sowsApplied Animal Behaviour Science


Jinhyeon Yun, Kirsi-Marja Swan, Chantal Farmer, Claudio Oliviero, Olli Peltoniemi, Anna Valros
Food Animals / Animal Science and Zoology


Applied Animal Behaviour Science 160 (2014) 31–37

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Applied Animal Behaviour Science jou rn al hom epage : w ww.elsev ier .com/ locate /applan im

Prepartum nest-building has an impact on postpartum nursing performance and maternal behaviour in early lactating sows


Olli Pelto a Research Cen

Helsinki, P.O. B b Agriculture a c Department o

Finland a r t i c l

Article history:

Received 2 Jun

Received in re

Accepted 28 A

Available onlin






Maternal beha

Farrowing env ∗ Correspon

E-mail add http://dx.doi.o 0168-1591/© Yuna,∗, Kirsi-Marja Swana, Chantal Farmerb, Claudio Olivieroc, niemic, Anna Valrosa tre for Animal Welfare, Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, 00014 University of ox 57, Finland nd Agri-food Canada, Dairy and Swine R&D Centre, 2000 College St., Sherbrooke, QC J1M 0C8, Canada f Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Paroninkuja 20, 04920 Saarentaus, e i n f o e 2014 vised form 5 August 2014 ugust 2014 e 6 September 2014 viour ironment a b s t r a c t

The effects of facilitating prepartum nest-building (NB) behaviour, by providing abundant nesting materials, on postpartum maternal characteristics in early lactating sows were evaluated. A total of 35 sows, approximately seven days before the expected parturition date, were housed in: (1) CRATE (N = 11): the farrowing crate closed (210 cm × 80 cm), with provision of a bucketful of sawdust, (2) PEN (N = 12): the farrowing crate opened, with provision of a bucketful of sawdust, and (3) NEST (N = 12): the farrowing crate opened, with provision of abundant nesting materials. Plasma samples were collected from sows, via an indwelling catheter on days −3, −2, and −1 (parturition being day 0) for oxytocin (OT) and prolactin (PRL) assays. Prepartum NB behaviour was observed in sows for a 20 min period for each hour from 18 h to parturition until birth of the first piglet. This

NB behaviour included pawing, rooting and arranging nest material. The potential interactions between NB behaviour and postpartum maternal characteristics were investigated.

The longest duration of NB behaviour was observed in NEST, followed by PEN and CRATE sows respectively (P < 0.0001), and this duration tended to be correlated with prepartum

OT in sows (rs = 0.20, P = 0.05). Both prepartum OT and PRL concentrations were greater in

NEST than in CRATE and PEN sows (P < 0.05). An interaction existed between OT and PRL concentrations (r = 0.26, P < 0.01), and PRL increased as the parturition date approached (P < 0.0001), whereas prepartum OT did not differ between days. Total duration of prepartum NB behaviour was positively correlated with postpartum carefulness of sows when lying down (rs = 0.52, P < 0.01), and negatively correlated with the average duration of successful nursing bouts in early lactation (rs = −0.42, P < 0.05). In conclusion, it appears that NB behaviour in prepartum sows could be enhanced by the provision of nesting materials. This, coupled with elevated OT and PRL concentrations, could result in improved postpartum nursing performance and maternal behaviour in early lactating sows. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. ding author. Tel.: +358 50 3112550; fax: +358 9 191 57300. ress: (J. Yun). 1. Introduction

Prepartum sows have a robust instinct to build a nest before parturition (Widowski and Curtis, 1990; Wischner rg/10.1016/j.applanim.2014.08.011 2014 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. 32 J. Yun et al. / Applied Animal Behaviour Science 160 (2014) 31–37 et al., 2009). Even when kept in barren farrowing environments with no possibility to build a nest, sows perform nest-building (NB) movements (Lawrence et al., 1994;

Jarvis et al., 1997). Several studies have discussed that this

NB behavio lactin (PRL)

Uvnäs-Mob factors to re and Uvnästhe farrowi internal be both.

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Uvnäs-Mob in circulatin et al., 2008 lead to an i play a cruc (Pedersen a et al., 2013 suppression tively affect 2013, 2014) primiparou known to be tem, but als as thermal,

Petersson, 2

The aim influence o space prior sows, and t and PRL co ing nesting

NB behavio would resu teristics, po concentrati 2. Materia

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Animal Use was conduc pig farm re

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Finnish Lan 4) were hou for approxi rition date. room, wher from a nip (08:30, 14:3 system. Each farrowing pen (230 cm × 210 cm) contained conventional steel farrowing crates and wooden piglet shelters situated in one corner with a heat lamp on the concrete floor. Housing and diet conditions were described in detail e expe

Experim ws we mized arity 2 ng crat d, and 12 (4 house ketful y 1, pa ith th two b buck hree n ateri ust in were s out ad t was b

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Behavi l sows prior s the d ras (N ted our could be triggered by a rise in prepartum proconcentrations (Castrén et al., 1993; Algers and erg, 2007), and be activated by environmental ach completion of the nest (Jensen, 1993; Algers

Moberg, 2007; Wischner et al., 2009). However, ng crate in modern pig husbandry restricts this haviour due to the lack of space, materials or on of NB behaviour could provoke an increase ous opioid receptor density (Zanella et al., 1996; erg and Petersson, 2005), and thus a decrease g plasma OT concentrations in sows (Oliviero ; Yun et al., 2013). The release of OT could ncrease in circulating PRL concentrations, and ial part in improving maternal characteristics nd Prange, 1979; Pedersen et al., 1992; Yun ). Furthermore, several studies showed that a of endogenous OT concentrations could negaearly lactation performance in sows (Yun et al., , and could also delay maternal behaviour in the s rat (Pedersen et al., 1992). OT release is widely stimulated by not only the central nervous syso by various types of non-noxious senses such tactile, or olfactory stimuli (Uvnäs-Moberg and 005). of the current study was to investigate the f provision of abundant nesting materials and to parturition on NB behaviour of prepartum o study their interactions with circulating OT ncentrations. It was hypothesized that providmaterials and space could enhance prepartum ur, and that vigorous prepartum NB behaviour lt in improved postpartum maternal characssibly due to elevated circulating OT and PRL ons. ls and methods rimental procedures performed in this study ved by the Ethical Committee for Institutional and Care of the University of Helsinki. The study ted from March to May 2011 at a commercial gistered as an experimental research station in outhern Finland. Farrowing housing conditions mental designs were similar as in a previous et al., 2013). s and housing of 35 crossbred sows (Finnish Yorkshire × drace; 12 gilts, 12 parity 2, and 11 parity 3 or sed in three different farrowing environments mately seven days before their expected partuAnimals were kept in a temperature-controlled e they were allowed ad libitum access to water ple drinker, and were fed three times a day 0 and 19:30 h) via an automatic liquid feeding more in th tion. 2.2.