Cortisol, behavioral responses, and injury scores of sows housed in gestation stalls

Leena Anil, Sukumarannair S. Anil, John Deen, Samuel K. Baidoo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess welfare status of 25 pregnant sows housed in gestation stalls, in terms of cortisol concentrations, behavior responses, and injury scores. Materials and methods: Data were collected on gestation days 5, 56, and 108. Time-lapse video recording for 24-hour periods was used to observe behavior at each data point. Salivary cortisol concentrations were assessed using radioimmunoassay. Injuries were scored individually and added to provide a total injury score (TIS). Results: Cortisol concentrations were lower on gestation day 56 than on other days, and TIS was higher on day 108 than on days 5 and 56 (P < .05). Time spent lying was highest on day 108 (P < .05). Sows spent more time on exploration and active behavior on day 56 than on days 5 and 108 (P < .05). Time for the transition from sitting to lying was higher on day 108 than on day 56 (P < .05). Frequencies of overall postural change and of standing or sitting to lying and lying to sitting were highest on day 5 (P < .05). Frequency of lying to standing was higher on day 5 than on day 108 (P < .05). Body weight was negatively correlated with time spent on exploration and active behavior and standing, and positively correlated with time spent lying (P <.05). Implications: Welfare of sows in gestation stalls appears to be more compromised during early and late stages of gestation. Providing larger sows with larger stalls might improve welfare.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-201
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Swine Health and Production
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006


  • Behavior
  • Cortisol
  • Gestation
  • Swine
  • Welfare

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