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Attempts to develop a simple, objective test for oestrus in sows

  • Ruth Henderson (a1), A. Stolba (a1), M. Döbeli (a2) and H. Kündig (a2)


To evaluate the accuracy of various techniques for determining the sexual state of sows, four multiparous Landrace sows were housed in stalls 2–5 weeks after weaning. Catheters were inserted under anaesthetic into a prominent ear vein on each sow. Four days later blood and urine sampling commenced, along with other measurements to assess the oestrous state of the animals.

Oestrus was detected in all four sows and so were corresponding oestradiol·17β peaks (22–49 pg/ml) in serum of the three sows from which blood was successfully sampled during the complete 25·day collection period. Serum progesterone concentrations were highest between days — 5 and — 12 (day 0 = 1st day of standing heat) (peak values of 33·1–58·2 ng/ml), with values of 3·55 ng/ml or less on day 0. Urinary oestrogen was less well correlated with oestrous state than were serum hormone concentrations, but progesterone derivatives in urine corresponded well to serum progesterone with peaks between days —5 and —9. Vulval redness, vulval size, social interest and the occurrence of flehmen were markedly greater during the oestrous period than at other times in the cycle. Body temperature, vaginal pH, the presence of vaginal mucus and behavioural manifestations of oestrus (with the exception of back pressure test) were less well correlated with sexual state. A combination of vulval colour and size, back pressure test, a more detailed study of behaviour and possibly with urinary progesterone derivatives, should give the best indication of the incidence of oestrus in sows.



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