The effect of selection for residual feed intake on general behavioral activity and the occurrence of lesions in Yorkshire gilts

Larry J. Sadler, Iowa State University
Anna Johnson, Iowa State University
Steven M. Lonergan, Iowa State University
Dan Nettleton, Iowa State University
Jack C. Dekkers, Iowa State University

This is a manuscript of an article that has not been peer-reviewed in Journal of Animal Sciences 89 (2011): 258, doi:10.2527/jas.2009-2595. Posted with permission.


The objectives of this study were to determine the effect of selection for improved residual feed intake on behavior, activity, and lesion scores in gilts in their home pen. A total of 192 gilts were used, 96 from a line that had been selected for decreased residual feed intake over 5 generations (LRFI) and 96 from a randomly bred control line. Gilts were housed in 12 pens (16 gilts/pen; 0.82 m2/gilt) containing 8 gilts from each line in a conventional grow-finish unit. Twelve hours of video footage were collected on the day of placement and then every 4 wk for 3 more observational periods. Video was scored using a 10-min instantaneous scan sampling technique for 4 postures (standing, lying, sitting, and locomotion) and 1 behavior (at drinker). Categories of active (standing, locomotion, and at drinker) and inactive (sitting and lying) were also created. Lesion scores were collected 24 h after behavior collection had begun. The body of a gilt was divided into 4 regions, with each region receiving a score of 0 (0 lesions) to 3 (5+ lesions). All statistical analyses used Proc Mixed of SAS. Data were analyzed separately for the day of placement and the subsequent 3 rounds. General activity was summarized on a percentage basis by each posture and behavior and subjected to an arcsine square root transformation to normalize data and stabilize variance. Analysis was performed on each behavior and posture. Lesion scores for each region of the body were analyzed as repeated measures. There were no differences (P> 0.05) between genetic lines for all postures and the behavior at drinker on the day of placement. However, over subsequent rounds it was observed that LRFI gilts spent less (P = 0.03) time standing, more time sitting (P = 0.05), and were less active (P = 0.03) overall. Gilts from the LRFI line had decreased (P < 0.045) lesion scores on the day after placement. However, over subsequent rounds there were no (P > 0.05) differences between the genetic lines. In conclusion, on the day of placement there were no postural, behavior, or general activity differences between genetic lines, but LRFI gilts had decreased lesion scores. Behavioral differences were observed between genetic lines over subsequent rounds, with LRFI gilts becoming less active, but there were no differences in lesion scores.