Minimizing aggression during mixing of gestating sows with supplementation of a tryptophan-enriched diet
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Just to show tryptophan is key to animals' behaviour too
A description of the experience
Physiol Behav. 2014 Jun 10;132:36-43. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.043. Epub 2014 May 9.
Minimizing aggression during mixing of gestating sows with supplementation of a tryptophan-enriched diet.
Poletto R1, Kretzer FC2, Hötzel MJ2.
- 1Laboratório de Etologia Aplicada e Bem-Estar Animal (LETA), Departamento de Zootecnia e Desenvolvimento Rural, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Rod. Admar Gonzaga, 1346, Florianópolis, SC 88034-001, Brazil. Electronic address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 2Laboratório de Etologia Aplicada e Bem-Estar Animal (LETA), Departamento de Zootecnia e Desenvolvimento Rural, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Rod. Admar Gonzaga, 1346, Florianópolis, SC 88034-001, Brazil.
Gestation stalls are criticized for its negative physical and psycho-physiological effects on sow welfare. Group housing benefits sow well-being and when planned properly can minimize aggression during mixing.
This study aimed to evaluate the effect of short-term feeding of a TRP-enriched diet at a concentration of 220% the control (CTL) diet, on aggressiveness at mixing of sows at 4weeks of gestation.
Treatment diets were fed for 7 consecutive days; from days 1 to 5 sows were housed in stalls, early in the morning on day 6 sows were grouped by parity and assessed until day 7. Eighteen pens with 4 sows each (n=72) of similar parity were assigned to CTL and TRP treatments. Sows' behaviors were recorded daily for 12h, from days 1 to 7. Inactive and active behaviors (alert, walking (pen), rooting, feeding, drinking, eliminating), stereotypic behaviors (bar biting and sham-chewing), and postures (standing, sitting, lying) were assessed by 10-minute scan sampling. Occurrence of agonistic interactions, number of actions such as bites, head knocks and pursuits and their sum per interaction were recorded for each pen using 2-h continuous behavioral observation, at days 6 and 7. Skin lesion scores were assessed from each sow at day 5 and at 48h post-mixing, using a sow body map subdivided into anterior, central and posterior body regions. A linear mixed model with day as repeated measure, stall or pen as experimental unit, tested the fixed effects of treatment, day, period within day, their interactions, and block by treatment interaction; stall (trt) or pen (trt) as appropriate was used as random effect.
Blood concentration of TRP was higher on the mixing day in TRP-fed sows compared to baseline (76%) and CLT-fed sows at mixing (79%; P<0.05), while serotonin concentration did not differ between treatments (P>0.05).
The TRP-enriched diet was effective in reducing sham-chewing in stall housed sows of parity 5-9 (P<0.05). In pens, TRP-fed sows spent more time rooting (TRP=28.0 vs. CTL=20.7±1.0%; P<0.05) and consequently less time lying down than CTL-fed sows (TRP=56.1 vs. CTL=65.1±2.0%; P<0.05).
The total number of offensive actions per interaction was greater in the morning than afternoon for both days (P<0.05), but this was less evident in TRP-fed compared to CTL sows mainly on the morning following mixing (3.4 vs. 7.2±1.0, respectively; Trt∗period (day)=P<0.05). The average lesion score was lower in the anterior body region of TRP-fed compared to CTL sows (2.1 vs. 2.5±0.2; P<0.05), the most affected area during fights.
The TRP-enriched diet reduced sow aggression while increasing behavioral activity, as evidenced by more time rooting and standing while sows had fewer offensive actions per agonistic interaction and lower skin lesion score 48h post-mixing. A TRP enriched diet provided to gestating sows for a short period prior to social mixing and continued for a short time after is an effective means of reducing aggression and improving the welfare of sows during group formation.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Aggression; Animal welfare; Gestation; Social mixing; Swine; Tryptophan