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Comparison of methods to assess fear of humans in sows

Lookup NU author(s): Kamara Scott, Emerita Professor Sandra Edwards


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The aims of this study were to compare three different methods to assess fear of humans in sows, and identify the most practical and reliable method for on-farm welfare assessment. Fifty-five crossbred sows (Landrace x Large White x Duroc) of different parities and stages of pregnancy were each subjected to three tests-Test 0: response of free moving sows to a stationary observer in an open field test; Test S: response of sows in stalls to approaching hand contact; Test G: response of free moving sows in groups to approach by an observer. Each test was repeated after a period of no more than one week and sows behavioural responses were scored according to pre-determined scales of approach-withdrawal behaviour. Although previously validated in another study, Test 0 showed poor repeatability (r(s) = 0.153, P > 0.05), whereas repeatability was good for both Test S (r(s) = 0.777, P 0.05). Rank correlations showed a weak but significant relationship between Test 0 and Test S (r(s) = 0.270, P 0.05). There were no significant effects of parity or stage of pregnancy on fear responses in any of the three tests. Since they are practical, repeatable and measure the same level of underlying fear of humans in sows, we recommend Test S and Test G for on-farm welfare assessment in different housing systems. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Scott K, Laws DM, Courboulay V, Meunier-Salaun MC, Edwards SA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Applied Animal Behaviour Science

Year: 2009

Volume: 118

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 36-41

ISSN (print): 0168-1591

ISSN (electronic): 1872-9045

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.02.004


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Funder referenceFunder name
FOOD- CT-2 004-5 06508European Commission