Identification of Faecal Maternal Semiochemicals in Swine (Sus scrofa) and their Effects on Weaned Piglets

Edgar O. Aviles-Rosa, Kaz Surowiec, John McGlone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Piglets are attracted to maternal faeces early in life. Thus, the aim of this study was to identify faecal maternal semiochemicals that attract piglets and evaluate their effects on piglets at weaning. Faecal samples were collected from eight sows during gestation and lactation. Faecal semiochemicals were extracted and identified using solid phase extraction and GC/MS. A total of 26 volatiles were present in lactating and gestating sow faeces. Sows secreted no unique semiochemical after farrowing. However, the concentration of skatole and myristic acid were 2.68 and 1.13 times higher after farrowing. A free-choice preference assessment showed that piglets had a preference for a feeder sprayed with a solution containing skatole and myristic acid. No preference was found when feeders were sprayed with skatole and myristic acid individually. The application of skatole and myristic acid to the feeders of weaned pigs significantly reduced piglet aggression by 30% and tended to increase feeding behaviour by 35% the first 24 h post-weaning. These results suggest that skatole and myristic acid might be acting as a multicomponent maternal signal that attracts piglets and has a calming effect at weaning.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5349
JournalScientific reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

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