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Yi, R., Wang, C., Zhang, X., Zhao, P., Zhang, M., Li, X., … & Bao, J. (2018). Maternal Behavior, Posture Change, and Production Performance of Lactating Sows Housed in an Enriched Environment. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 1-11.

This study aimed to evaluate whether adding straw to a loose-farrowing house promotes maternal functions and production. Forty-eight sows (Landrace× Large White) were housed in either a farrowing pen without straw (C, n = 24) or with straw (S, n = 24). Behaviors were observed using video recordings and were statistically analyzed. Lateral recumbency was higher and standing was lower in S compared with C (p = .034 and p = .020, respectively), and lateral recumbency to other postures, ventral to lateral recumbency and standing to lying were markedly lower in S than C (p = .014, p = .025 and p = .023, respectively) on Day 1 postpartum. However, except piglet losses during the first three days postpartum (p = .032), piglet weight on Day 21 (p = .037), and piglet weaning weight (p = .020), other production performances were not significantly different between the two groups during the whole experimental period (p ˃.05). The results suggest the enrichment of a farrowing pen with straw has important beneficial effects on sow and piglet welfare and improves piglet survival rates.

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