R. Bras. Zootec.01/Mar/2016;45(3):121-9.

Behaviour, heart rate, and heart rate variability in pigs exposed to novelty

Manja Zupan, Tore Framstad, Adroaldo José Zanella

DOI: 10.1590/S1806-92902016000300006


In the present study, we investigated behavioural responses and determined parameters of heart rate variability (HRV) to elucidate a relative activation of autonomic nervous system (ANS) during baseline (10 min) and in response to potentially stressful situations (10 min) in two pig breeds and sexes. Gilts (n = 21) and barrows (n = 9) of the Landrace × Yorkshire (LY; n = 15) and Landrace/Yorkshire × Landrace/Duroc (LYLD; n = 15) breeds were subjected to a novel object test (NOT) and a novel arena test (NAT). Basal ANS state differed in pigs across breeds but not sexes. Landrace × Yorkshire pigs had a significantly lower basal heart rate (HR) and low-frequency band (LF) with a higher root mean square of successive interbeat intervals (RMSSD) and high-frequency band (HF) than LYLD pigs. In the NOT, despite having similar cardiac responses, gilts had a longer duration of contact with a novel object, higher lying and standing duration, and a lower duration of walking compared with barrows. In the NAT, we found similar behaviour across sexes but a different degree of ANS state, with barrows having a significantly higher increase in LF/HF (power of the low frequency component divided by the power of the high-frequency band) compared with gilts. Landrace/Yorkshire × Landrace/Duroc pigs showed longer duration of contact with a novel object in the NOT accompanied by less lying and standing than LY pigs in both tests. No difference in ANS activation between breeds was found in the NOT. In the NAT, HR increased more from baseline to testing in LY pigs than in LYLD pigs. There is a complex and often contradictory nature of relationships between behaviour and cardiac responses to novelty in pigs of different breeds and sexes.

Behaviour, heart rate, and heart rate variability in pigs exposed to novelty