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The effect of farrowing house temperature on piglet behaviour and creep use

  • J. Barber (a1) and R.A. Bourne (a1)


Piglet mortality between birth and weaning represents a considerable economic loss to the national pig herd. Despite general reductions in pre-weaning losses, mortality figures from the better producers would suggest that improvement is possible. In attempting to reduce piglet losses it is important to establish when the deaths occur and their underlying causes. Together, starvation and overlying has been reported to account for 75% of all pre-weaning losses. Furthermore, chilling predisposes newborn piglets to starvation, overlying and disease, (Curtis, 1974). Piglets require a much greater environmental temperature than the farrowing sow, and therefore heated creep areas are provided to satisfy their needs. In addition the creep offers a safe area away from the danger of overlying by the sow. The greater the time piglets spend in the creep areas, the lower is the likelihood of them being chilled or overlain. Most studies show that 50% of pre-weaning mortalities occur during the first two days after farrowing, (Pomeroy, 1960 and English et al., 1977), therefore use of the creep during this period would seem important to piglet survival. This study provides information on piglet behaviour during the first week of life in relation to farrowing pen temperature and two designs of creep.



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Curtis, S.E., 1974. Responses of piglets to perinatal stressors. Journal of Animal Science, 38: 10311036.
English, P.R., Smith, W.J. and Maclean, A., 1977. The sow - improving her efficiency. Farming Press Ltd., Suffolk.
Pomeroy, R.W., 1960. Infertility and neonatal mortality in the sow III. Neonatal mortality and foetal development. Journal of Agricultural Science. Cambridge, 54, 3156.
Welch, A.R. and Baxter, M.R., 1986. Responses of newborn piglets to thermal and tactile properties of their environment. Applied Animal Behavioural Science, 15, 203215.

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The effect of farrowing house temperature on piglet behaviour and creep use

  • J. Barber (a1) and R.A. Bourne (a1)


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