Piglet behavior as a measure of vitality and its influence on piglet survival and growth during lactation

R. Muns, E. G. Manzanilla, C. Sol, X. Manteca, J. Gasa

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55 Citations (Scopus)


The aim of the study was to develop a vitality scoring method, based on piglet behavior and relate it to piglet growth and survival. From 21 sows (Sus scrofa), 287 piglets were used. After farrowing (d 0), piglets were weighed and tested for 4 behavioral parameters in a circular enclosure (55 cm diam.): movement capacity (M), udder stimulation (U), number of completed circles around the enclosure (NCC), and screaming (Sc). Piglets were weighed again on d 1, 2, 3, and 17. Piglet rectal temperature (RT) was recorded on d 0, 1, 2, and 3. Farrowing information of the sow was also recorded. Multiple regression analyses for survival and BW gain at weaning as dependent variables were performed. Piglet BW gain at weaning was influenced by BW at birth (P < 0.001), sow parity (P = 0.024), total number of piglets born alive per sow (P < 0.001), and sum of U and NCC parameters (UN; P = 0.023). Piglet survival during lactation was influenced by BW at birth (P = 0.015), UNCC parameter (P = 0.026), and RT on d 3 (P = 0.085). The sum of U and NCC parameters, in combination with BW at birth and information of the sow, might be useful to predict piglet growth survival during lactation, thus becoming a useful tool to improve piglet management during the first days of lactation. In conclusion, UNCC parameter seems to be an easy and useful way to assess piglet vitality for both scientific and commercial purposes. © 2013 American Society of Animal Science. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1838-1843
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2013


  • Behavior
  • Growth
  • Pig
  • Survival
  • Viability
  • Vitality


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