Behaviour of pregnant gilts fed low or high fiber diets and maintained in crates or stalls

The effect of low (LF= 4.5%) or high (HF= 13%) dietary crude fibre content and of housing system (individual crates or collective stalls) on the behaviour of pregnant gilts was evaluated. The posture and stereotypies of the females were observed in three moments: 10 and 30 minutes after morning intake (10AP and 30AP) and 10 minutes before afternoon meal (10AN). The position and stereotypies of the group-stall were not associated with the diet (P>0.05). In the crate-group, the HF diet was associated to a lower frequency of standing position and a higher frequency of lying position (P<0.05), at 10AP. At 30AP, there was an association of LF diet and crate-housing with an increase of the sitting position and a decrease of the lying position (P<0.05). At 10AN there was an increase of the standing position and a decrease of the lying position in the crate-group, independently of the diet (P>0.05). In the crate-group the HF diet was associated to a reduction of stereotypies at 10AP and 30AP. Stall-housing was associated to a greater absence of stereotypies (P<0.05) at 30AP. At 10AN, neither the diet nor the housing system were associated to stereotypies occurrence (P>0.05). The HF diet, when administered to crate-group, reduced standing position at 10AP and increased the absence of stereotypies at 10AP and 30AP, suggesting an improvement of gilts welfare. However, anxiety of crate-housed gilts expressed by a higher frequency of standing position at 30AN, was not reduced with the HF diet.

swine; gilt; welfare; nutrition; housing

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