R. Bras. Zootec.07/Jun/2019;48:e20180135.
Does high stereotypic behavior expression affect productivity measures in sows?
The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of stereotypic behavior on productivity measures in sows. Frequent expression of stereotypies by pigs has been reported, even when pigs are not maintained in crates. This behavior is only observed in animals kept in captivity and is a wide-range welfare indicator, since it is considered to develop in situations of chronic stress or frustration. When comparing groups of sows showing low or high frequency of stereotypy expression, we found that stereotypic behavior did not affect productivity. Moreover, it did not affect physiological welfare indicators, such as salivary cortisol concentration or glucocorticoids in the placenta. There were no differences in productivity parameters, including weight of sows, weight of piglets, number of piglets weaned, or piglet mortality. Our study was conducted in group-housing pens, where the sows were not confined. Even in this condition, which is considered for increasing welfare, the barren environment did not meet the behavioral and sensory needs of sows, which were naturally selected to perform complex behavioral repertoire and to spend part of their time engaging in exploratory behavior.