Date of this Version
Millburn, S.G. (2022), Identifying Early-Life Behavior to Predict Mothering Ability in Swine Utilizing NUtrack System. [Master's Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln]
Early recognition of indicator traits for swine reproduction and longevity supports economical selection decision making. Gilt activity is a key variable impacting a sow’s herd life and productivity. The purpose of this study was to examine early- life behaviors contributing to farrowing traits including gestation length (GL), number born alive (NBA), number weaned (NW), and herd life (HL). Herd life was a binary trait representing if a gilt was culled after one parity. Beginning at approximately 20 weeks of age, video recordings were taken on 480 gilts for 7 consecutive days and processed using the NUtrack system. Activity traits include angle rotated (degree), average speed (m/s), distance travelled (m), time spent eating (s), lying lateral (s), lying sternal (s), standing (s), and sitting (s). Final daily activity values were averaged across the period under cameras. Parity one data was collected for all gilts considered. Data were analyzed using linear regression models and odds ratios (R version 4.0.2). GL was significantly impacted by angle rotated (p = 0.03), average speed (p = 0.07), distance travelled (p = 0.05), time spent lying lateral (p = 0.003), and lying sternal (0.02). NBA was significantly impacted by time spent lying lateral (p = 0.01), lying sternal (p = 0.07), and time spent sitting (p = 0.08). NW was significantly impacted by time spent eating (p = 0.09), time spent lying lateral (p = 0.04), and time spent sitting (p = 0.007). Estimated odds ratios showed gilts traveling below average speeds and spending below average time lying sternal were positively associated with below average GL. Gilts spending below average time lying lateral are associated with below average NW. Gilts spending below average time sitting were negatively associated with below average NW. Gilts spending below average time lying sternal were negatively associated with below average HL. This analysis suggests early-life gilt behavior is associated with sow productivity traits of importance. Further examination of the link between behavior and reproductive traits is necessitated. Utilization of the NUtrack video monitoring system to isolate behavioral differences offers potential to aide in selection decisions.
Advisor: Benny Mote