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Guilherme Amorim Franchi

Validating play behaviour as a positive welfare indicator in pigs (Sus scrofa) around weaning

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Play behaviour in juveniles is reduced by threats to animal welfare such as hunger and perceived danger. Conversely, engagement in play behaviour has been linked to the presence of positive-valanced affective states. Hence, play behaviour has been proposed to be an indicator of positive animal welfare. However, the interpretation of play in animals remains challenging due to its variability between and within species as well as complex motivating factors. To clarify underlying factors, we investigated, as part of the H2020 project ClearFarm, the relationship between locomotor and social play behaviour and physiological (i.e., growth and saliva cortisol), clinical (i.e., faeces score and ear damage) and behavioural (i.e., visits to feeder and drinker, tail posture and tail motion) measures in conventional Yorkshire × Landrace pigs before and after weaning. Weaning is a stressful event in the life of pigs typically involving abrupt separation from the sow, dietary change, and regrouping in a novel environment. In total, 24 litters [pigs/litter: (mean ± SD) 13 ± 2; age at weaning: 26 ± 2 days] raised under conventional husbandry conditions were included in this study. Before weaning, increased performance of locomotor play was associated with increased growth rate, absence of diarrhoea (indicated by liquid faeces), and increased frequency of visits to the drinker. During the first 48 h post-weaning, increased locomotor play was observed in pigs with increased growth, absence of diarrhoea, absence of ear damage, and increased frequency of visits to the feeder. Social play positively related with growth pre- and post-weaning. No relations between play behaviour and saliva cortisol, tail posture and tail motion were observed. Our findings corroborate the idea that an animal in a more favourable condition (e.g., well-nourished and without sickness or injuries) are motivated to perform more play behaviour. The methods, results and discussion will be presented in detail.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 73rd Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
PublisherWageningen Academic Publicers
Publication yearSept 2022
ISBN (print)978-90-8686-385-3
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-8686-937-4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Event73 Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science - Alfandenga do Porto Conference Centre, Porto, Portugal
Duration: 5 Sept 20229 Sept 2022


Conference73 Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
LocationAlfandenga do Porto Conference Centre
SeriesEAAP Book of Abstracts

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