SowNest - Predicting sow performance through nest building profiles

Last changed: 13 September 2023
Photo: Sow laying in straw

Nest building is one of the important natural behaviours of sows. Although domestic sows are kept indoors with resources to keep the piglets warm, they are still performing specific behaviour sequences related to nest building. The overall aim of this project is to explore individual nest building behaviour in sows and analyse the variation in the nest building profiles, (e.g. timing and quantity of specific nest building behaviours in relation to onset of farrowing). Furthermore, to study the association of the nest building behaviour profiles to sow welfare, maternal care and piglet survival.

Photo: Sow with straw in her mouthPerformed at the Swedish Livestock Research Centre, 40 sows will be followed through their first three parities to map their individual nest building behaviour at each farrowing, the repeatability in nest building behaviour over parities and to study its association to sow welfare, maternal care and piglet survival. Based on gained knowledge, a practical farmer´s tool for characterisation of nest building profiles by activity tags will be developed and evaluated in three commercial pig farms. Results will contribute to a better understanding of the role of nest building. We believe identification of individual nest building profiles may be useful for pig farmers, especially to help them in their decisions making about what gilts and sows to use for piglet production.

Photo: Sow with piglets