Effects of thermal conditions on gestating sows’ behaviors and energy requirements - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Animal Science Year : 2023

Effects of thermal conditions on gestating sows’ behaviors and energy requirements


Room temperature and individual behavior may influence the energy requirements of gestating sows. These factors are not yet integrated on a daily and individual basis in the calculation of these requirements. The objective of this study was to quantify the effect of temperatures on the sows’ behaviors, especially on the level of physical activity, and on the energy requirements of gestating sows. Over four consecutive weeks, the temperature of two gestation rooms was maintained at medium temperatures (16.7 °C and 18.5 °C, respectively, for room 1 and room 2) for the first and third week, at low temperatures (14.4 °C and 15.3 °C) for the second week, and at high temperatures (31.6 °C and 31.9 °C) for the fourth week. Individual behavior was manually recorded based on videos and the data used to estimate the physical activity and social interactions of 37 gestating sows separated into two groups. The videos were analyzed over two periods of 5 h (“Feeding period” from 2300 to 0400 hours, “Resting period” from 1330 to 1830 hours). The energy requirements were calculated by the InraPorc model, modified for gestating sows, on the basis of a thermo-neutral situation and an average activity of 4 h standing per day for all the sows. The sows of one group were less active in high than low temperatures (83 vs. 103 min standing or walking over 5 h, P < 0.001). Isolation for high temperatures or huddling for low temperatures could be observed when sows were lying down. The sows spent more time lying laterally with high temperatures than low temperatures (66% vs. 52% of time spent lying, respectively, P < 0.001). Both groups reacted differently to high temperatures, in one the sows changed their activity (lying more) whereas in the other they drank more water compared to medium temperatures (11 vs. 8.5 L/d, P = 0.01). In one group, with high temperatures the sows were fed above their requirements (they should have received 110 g of feed per day per sow less, P < 0.001) and with low temperatures the same group should have received 50 g/d per sow more to fulfill their requirements. For the second group of sows, the temperatures did not significantly affect the feed requirements. In conclusion, daily ambient temperature and individual physical activity seem to be relevant information to add in nutritional models to improve precision feeding.

Dates and versions

hal-04020710 , version 1 (09-03-2023)



Justine Abarnou, Maëva Durand, Jean-Yves Dourmad, Charlotte Gaillard. Effects of thermal conditions on gestating sows’ behaviors and energy requirements. Journal of Animal Science, 2023, 101, pp.skac413. ⟨10.1093/jas/skac413⟩. ⟨hal-04020710⟩
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