Evidence for aggression-modulating pheromones in prepuberal pigs

John J. McGlone, Stanley E. Curtis, Edwin M. Banks

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24 Scopus citations


A series of behavioral bioassays were conducted to determine the aggression-influencing properties of urine and other fluids. Subjects were prepuberal castrated male and female domestic pigs from commercial stocks. In the behavior assay, pigs were painted with a test fluid and grouped for a videotaped 90 min observation period. Experiment 1 validated use of videotape recording by showing that duration of aggressive behavior registered live was correlated with that obtained from video records (R = .98). In experiment 2, urine and plasma collected from actively aggressive pigs reduced the durations of aggressive behavior of test pigs compared with the effects of urine and plasma collected from socially stable, handled pigs. In Experiment 3, a new set of test pigs confirmed that urine from fighting pigs reduced the duration of attack by test pigs compared with urine from nonfighting, handled pigs. In addition, the suggested reproductive pheromone, 5α-androst-16-en-3-one, substantially reduced the duration of attack. The effects of gender and aggressive state of urine-donor pigs on test pigs was determined in Experiment 4. Again, urine from castrated male and female aggressive pigs reduced attack by test pigs compared with the level of attack shown by test pigs coated with urine from handled castrated males and females. Urine from fighting and nonfighting intact males had similar effects on test pig aggression. In Experiment 5, urine was obtained from nonhandled, socially stable pigs in their home pens and again from the same pigs after they had been regrouped (aggressive). These urine types had no significant influence on test pigs' aggression over the entire 90-min observation. However, during the first 30 min nonhandled, nonfighting pigs' urine induced less aggression in test pigs than did urine from fighting pigs. Results indicate that urine and blood plasma from aggressive pigs reduces aggression by test pigs compared with the effects of urine from handled pigs. Handling may increase the aggression-promoting properties of urine, and aggression may inhibit this aggression-promoting property.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral and Neural Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1987


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