THE BEHAVIOUR OF SUCKLING PIGLETS PUBLISHEDMihaela Liana Fericean, Radu Palicica, Olga Rada
In this paper we present a few behavioral features regarding the piglets’ birth process, the sow and piglets bonding, piglets investigative behaviour and care application behaviour of piglets. As biologic materials, we used piglets in extensive raising systems belonging to some households in Varfurile, County of Arad. Parturition may take up to 2-3 until 12 hours or longer; the total duration of parturition is different from race to race and from animal to animal, usually being longer with primiparous sows and shorter with multiparous sows. Most times farrowing takes place at night or in the evening. For a sow farrowing in decubitus position, expulsion interval between two piglets is between 10 and 30 minutes. At 10-20 minutes after the parturition, the piglets start to look for the sow’s nipples. Fore nipples are preferred because they are rich in milk. After farrowing, sows allow their piglets to suckle and are careful not to crush them. Most of a sow’s piglets begin to suckle and get settled permanently at the nipples after 2-3 days of age. Suckling frequency is on average of 25 in 24 hours, diminishing from 27 in the first week to 13 in the fifth week. The duration of suckling also decreases with age from 5 – 4 minutes in first two days to approximately 60 - 40 seconds in eight week. Hierarchical social structure is formed early in pigs, since the nursing period, when the order to the breast is formed. This hierarchy is maintained after weaning, piglets that suckled the most are stronger and more vigorous. The weaning age is important as a guide for their subsequent feeding. Now the age of weaning decreased dramatically in intensive systems as compared to pigs reared in extensive systems. Very good knowledge of the behaviour of piglets is very important to the swine rearing specialist for the following reasons: to model the rearing technology by taking into consideration the natural behaviour of pigs; to adapt pigs’ behaviours to rearing conditions as far as possible. An understanding of the natural b ehaviour of pigs can therefore help us to identify and remedy a range of pig welfare problems.
piglets, behaviour, suckling