Monitoring the nest building and parturition progress using acceleration data – PigIT, University of Copenhagen

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Monitoring the nest building and parturition progress using acceleration data

Cécile Cornou & Anders Ringgaard Kristensen


65th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science


A method to monitor nest building and farrowing activities using activity types classified from acceleration data is suggested. The progress of farrowing (start, end and birth of each piglet) is analyzed for 18 sows housed in crate, of which half was provided with straw (S), and half received no straw (NS). A nest building indicator (NBI) is defined, based on classified series of activity measurements. A nest building indicator (NBI) is defined, and consists of three parameters: (1) the duration of the NBI corresponds to the number of hours where sows are more than 50% of their time performing behavior classified as Active, allowing for a maximum of one hour with Active behavior below 50%; (2) the intensity of the NBI is defined as the proportion of activity during the NBI. Both the duration (14.1 to 17.0 h for group NS and S) and the peak of intensity (around 9 h before farrowing) of the NBI are very similar to results of previous studies describing the nest building behavior using video analysis; (3) the last hour of the NBI can be used as an indicator of imminent farrowing since it occurs in average, during the last 15 min before the onset of parturition. Shifts of activities (from Active, Lying laterally and Lying Active behavior) are studied at the approach, during and after farrowing. An increase of Lying Active behavior is observed during the last 2 to 4 hours prior parturition. Moreover, the average number of these shifts during parturition is significantly higher than during the 6 hours after the birth of the last piglet, especially for the group NS. This result could be used as an indicator of the farrowing end. The suggested method appears reliable to monitor nest building and the progress of parturition, and is less time consuming than video analyses. A better monitoring of these phases, can help to give more attention to sows and piglets around parturition, which can result in a better welfare and a reduction of piglet mortality.