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Piglet's Posture is Best Guide to its Comfort

by 5m Editor
18 September 2009, at 8:32am

NORWAY - Piglets tend to make changes in posture rather than huddling in order to keep comfortable, according to research published by G. Vasdal of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences and co-authors.

The objective of the study published in the Cambridge journal, Animal, was to investigate the effect of infrared (IR) temperature on thermoregulatory behaviour in suckling piglets in the first three weeks after farrowing..

A total of 10 piglets from each of the 16 litters were exposed to recommended IR temperature conditions at 1, 2 and 3 weeks of age, with a mild offset (4°C) in IR temperature during the first experiment and a more challenging offset (8°C) during the second experiment.

Digital photos were taken when all piglets had settled in the creep area, and the lying posture and huddling behaviour were analysed. A lying posture score and a huddling score was calculated by multiplying the number of piglets in each category with a given value for each category, based on different lying postures and different degrees of huddling behaviour.

With a 4°C change in IR temperature, the piglets tended to alter their lying posture, while an 8°C change had a significant effect on lying posture (P<0.01).

A change in IR temperature of 4°C had no effect on the degree of huddling. The huddling score decreased significantly with 8°C change in IR temperature (P<0.05).

Postural changes, rather than changes in degree of huddling were the preferred thermoregulatory strategy for suckling piglets, concluded Vasdal and co-authors.

Reference

Vasdal G., E.F. Wheeler and K.E. Bøe. 2009. Effect of infrared temperature on thermoregulatory behaviour in suckling piglets. animal 3: 1449-1454. doi:10.1017/S1751731109990309