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Effect of environmental enrichment in pregnant sows on their farrowing behavior and cortisol concentrations

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Authors: Guadalupe Espejo, Pedro Paredes‑Ramos, Concepción Ahuja‑Aguirre, Apolo Carrasco y Fernando Naranjo
Issue: 119-1 (19-29)
Topic: Animal Production
Keywords: sows, enrichment, cortisol, behavior, production

Pig production is one of the main livestock activities around the world. However, the demand in the consumption of meat has caused the animals to be housed in small areas and with poor sensory stimulation, affecting their development and increasing their stress. The gestation stage is very stressful for sows, as they are housed individually in cages that limit their activity and locomotion. On the other hand, environmental enrichment has been proposed to improve animal welfare. This study evaluated the effect of environmental enrichment during gestation on cortisol concentrations, farrowing behavior and productive parameters. The results showed that the sows of the group that did not receive enviromental enrichment during the gestation stage had increased cortisol concentrations and the frequency of scratching, lifting during childbirth, hitting with the muzzle the feeder and the cage (behaviors associated with pain and anxiety during farrowing), compared to sows that did receive enrichment (p < 0.05). However, environmental enrichment did not change the production parameters. This indicates that environmental enrichment during gestation can improve the ability of the pregnant sow to cope with stress, without affecting its productivity.


Espejo G, Paredes‑Ramos P, Ahuja‑Aguirre C, Carrasco A, Naranjo F (2023). Efecto del enriquecimiento ambiental en cerdas gestantes sobre su comportamiento al parto y concentraciones de cortisol. ITEA‑Información Técnica Económica Agraria 119(1): 19-29.

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