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The pig industry faces many animal welfare issues. Among these, biting behaviour has a high incidence. It is indicative of an existing problem in biters and is a source of physical damage and psychological stress for the victims. We categorize this behaviour into aggressive and non-aggressive biting, the latter often being directed towards the tail. This review focusses specifically on predisposing factors in early life, comprising the prenatal and postnatal periods up to weaning, for the expression of aggressive and non-aggressive biting later in life. The influence of personality and coping style has been examined in a few studies. It varies according to these studies and, thus, further evaluation is needed. Regarding the effect of environmental factors, the number of scientific papers is low (less than five papers for most factors). No clear influence of prenatal factors has been identified to date. Aggressive biting is reduced by undernutrition, cross-fostering and socialization before weaning. Non-aggressive biting is increased by undernutrition, social stress due to competition and cross-fostering. These latter three factors are highly dependent on litter size at birth. The use of familiar odours may contribute to reducing biting when pigs are moved from one environment to another by alleviating the level of stress associated with novelty. Even though the current environment in which pigs are expressing biting behaviours is of major importance, the pre-weaning environment should be optimized to reduce the likelihood of this problem.
By launching new processes introduced by nano science into much more conventional industrial applications fast, robust and economical reasonable inspection methods are required for process control and quality assurance. Coming from high tech industries e.g. semiconductor industries the methods available for thin film characterization and quality control are complex and often require scientific skilled personal. High frequency eddy current spectroscopy in reflection or transmission configuration allows a contactless measurement of e.g. copper thin films on silicon with a thickness resolution better that 5 nm. Due to the insensitivity of the transmission mode to dislocations or slight tilting of the sample the high frequency eddy current method is a practicable method for thin film characterization under industrial environment.
In farm animals, salivary cortisol has become a widely used parameter for measuring stress responses. However, only few studies have dealt with basal levels of concentration of cortisol in pigs and its circadian rhythm. The aim of this study was to examine the effects of ambient temperature and thermoregulatory behaviour on the circadian rhythm of salivary cortisol levels in fattening pigs. Subjects were 30 fattening pigs of different weight (60 to 100 kg), kept in six groups in an uninsulated building in pens with partly slatted floors. Saliva samples were taken every 2 h over periods of 24 h at different ambient temperatures at two times in winter and four times in summer. Thermoregulatory behaviour was recorded in the same 24-h time periods. The effect of time of day, body weight, ambient temperature and behaviour on the cortisol level was analysed using a mixed-effects model. Two peaks of cortisol levels per day were found. This circadian pattern became more pronounced with increasing weight and on days where thermoregulatory behaviour was shown. Mean cortisol levels per day were affected by weight but not by thermoregulatory behaviour. From our data, we conclude that long-term variations in cortisol concentration may be influenced by increasing age and weight more than by the respective experimental situation. In assessing animal welfare, it seems more reliable to consider the circadian pattern of cortisol concentration instead of only one value per day.
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