Behavior and performance of lactating sows and piglets reared indoors or outdoors

A. K. Johnson, J. L. Morrow-Tesch, J. J. McGlone

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74 Scopus citations


Two hundred eighty-seven lactating Newsham sows and their litters were used to determine the effects of intensive indoor (n = 147) and intensive outdoor (n = 140) production systems on sow and litter productivity and behavior. All sows were of contemporary age and fed a completely balanced sorghum-based diet. Behavior data were collected by live observation on 40 sows and litters (20 indoor and 20 outdoor) using a 5-min scan sample over a 4-h period in the afternoon (1400 to 1800). The durations of lying (90.0 vs 72.1 ± 2.76% of time observed) and drinking (4.42 vs 1.41 ± 0.6% of time observed) were higher (P < 0.01) among indoor than among outdoor lactating sows. Nursing interval and feeding and sitting behaviors were not different (P > 0.05) between production systems. Piglets spent more (P < 0.05) time walking (10.1 vs 5.2 ±1.72% of time observed) and engaged in play activity (5.0 vs 1.7 ± 1.26% of time observed) when housed outdoors than indoors. Outdoor piglets had more (P < 0.05) nursing behaviors directed toward the sow (27.5 vs 20.3 ± 2.02% of time observed) but time spent in contact with the sow did not differ between environments (38.8 vs 39.2 ± 2.78% of time observed). Treatments did not influence (P > 0.05) any of the sow or piglet production parameters. In conclusion, outdoor-kept Newsham sows and their piglets showed a richer behavioral repertoire, but the diverse environments did not influence production parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2571-2579
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of animal science
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2001


  • Behavior
  • Environment
  • Performance
  • Piglets
  • Sows


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