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Fear assessment in pigs exposed to a novel object test
Dalmau Bueno, Antoni; Fàbrega Romans, Emma; Velarde Calvo, Antonio
IRTA. Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries
The experiment aimed to study approach and locomotive behaviour as indicators of fear in a novel object test carried out in pigs. Thirty post-weaning (30 kg) and 30 finishing (90 kg) pigs were exposed to visual, auditory and olfactory novel stimuli during 2 different experiments. The facilities consisted of a test pen in which a trough was located. The trough contained chopped apples. Once the animals were trained to enter the test pen individually they were subjected to 3 different fear stimuli. These stimuli were applied in the test pen and next to the trough. The variables studied were feeding behaviour, approach behaviour (the distance and position of the animal with respect to the trough) and locomotive behaviour (general activity, reluctance to move, turning back and retreat attempts). Two groups were studied: saline and midazolam treated group. Twenty minutes before the start of the sessions, 15 post-weaning and finishing pigs received an intramuscular injection of 0.20 and 0.15 mg/kg, respectively, midazolam (Dormicum1). The saline pigs (15 animals per group) were injected with saline. The administration of midazolam increased the feeding behaviour and approaching behaviour, and reduced the locomotive behaviour. In front of the visual and olfactory stimuli post-weaning pigs showed a higher general activity than finishing pigs, but the contrary was found when the auditory stimulus was applied. The olfactory stimulus was more related to the turning back behaviour, whereas the visual stimulus was more related to retreat attempts. Although it could be concluded that reluctant to move was the most common response to the different fear stimuli applied in our study regardless of the age of animals, the combination of reluctant to move and turning back would be a good criterion to assess fear in domestic pigs. The use of midazolam as anxiolytic for studies of fear in commercial conditions in pigs is recommended.
2009-03
Porcs -- Hàbits i conducta
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23 p.
Article
Article
0168-1591
Elsevier
         

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