Behavioral changes in neonatal swine after an 8-hour rest during prolonged transportation

J Anim Sci. 2012 Sep;90(9):3213-9. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4597.


Long distance transportation of weaned piglets (Sus scrofa) is increasingly common in the united states and may result in delayed eating, drinking, or normal social behaviors. A potential solution is a mid-journey rest (lairage). The objective of this study was to determine if a lairage altered behavior after a 16-h transport. Pigs that weighed approximately 18 kg each (n = 894) were housed in 16 pens with 8 pens per treatment. Lairaged pigs were transported for 8 h and given an 8-h rest with food and water, whereas control pigs were transported continuously for 16 h. The heaviest, the lightest, and 2 average-BW pigs relative to the average weight of the pen were observed by video recording for 24 h immediately before and after transport, and during d 6 and 13 after transport. Postures (lying, sitting, and standing) were recorded using 10-min-interval scan sampling, and behavioral categories included inactivity, activities (eating, drinking, alert, manipulating pen, rooting, and walking) and social interactions (aggression, belly nosing, playing, tail biting, and positive social behaviors). In both treatments, sitting occurred most before transport (P < 0.01) than at other times, but did not differ between treatments. Standing increased (time effect; P < 0.01) for both treatments immediately after transport through d 6, but returned to pre-transport values by d 13. In contrast, lying decreased (time effect; P < 0.01) after transport, but returned to above pre-transport values by d 13. Time effects were evident for activity (P < 0.01), pen manipulation (P = 0.05), rooting (P < 0.01), initiation of belly-nosing (P = 0.01), and receiving belly-nosing (P = 0.03); however, initiation of aggression did not differ for day (P = 0.19) or treatment (P = 0.56). Lairaged pigs initiated more (P = 0.05) play than continuously transported pigs, but no differences (P = 0.84) were seen in receipt of play behavior. Pigs that were to be transported for 16 h continuously walked less pre-transport, walked more post-transport (treatment × time interaction; P = 0.02), and drank less pre-transport, but drank more on all days post-transport compared with the lairage group (treatment × time interaction; P = 0.001). This study indicated that extended transport without lairage alters some swine behaviors relevant to production (water consumption) and demonstrated that a long-duration transport, regardless of the mid-journey lairage treatment, affects a number of behaviors up to 13 d after transportation.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animal Welfare
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Body Weight
  • Play and Playthings
  • Rest / physiology*
  • Swine / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Transportation*
  • Walking