The Effect of Broadcasting Sow Suckling Grunts in the Lactation Shed on Piglet Growth

  • Cronin, G.M. (Animal Welfare Centre, Victorian Institute of Animal Science) ;
  • Leeson, E. (Animal Welfare Centre, Victorian Institute of Animal Science) ;
  • Cronin, J.G. (Animal Welfare Centre, Victorian Institute of Animal Science) ;
  • Barnett, J.L. (Animal Welfare Centre, Victorian Institute of Animal Science)
  • Received : 2000.12.07
  • Accepted : 2001.02.28
  • Published : 2001.07.01


An on-farm trial was conducted in temperature-controlled lactation rooms at a commercial pig farm to investigate the efficacy of broadcasting sow suckling grunts from day 4 of lactation, on increasing piglet growth to weaning. In the Broadcast treatment, sows and litters were exposed to a 3-min broadcast from loud-speakers every 42 min. The Control treatment was not exposed to the broadcast. All sows and litters had similar husbandry and piglets were provided with creep feed on the floor twice daily. In each of the three replicates in time, the Broadcast and Control treatments were allocated to different lactation rooms at random and there were 12 sows and litters per treatment per replicate. A total of four identical lactation rooms were available for the trial, each containing 28 conventional sow and litter crates with piglet heater in the creep area. A non-trial room separated the two treatment rooms in each replicate to minimise the chance that the broadcast grunt stimulation was audible to the Control treatment litters. Five "normal and average-looking" piglets from the trial litters were weighed twice, 7 d apart. The cohort of five piglets was identified by ear-tags and formed the experimental unit for the statistical analysis. The average (${\pm}SD$) age of piglets at initial weighing was 7.7(${\pm}2.22$) days. For each litter, mean piglet live weight at day 14 of lactation was estimated by linear regression of the two weights recorded seven days apart, when on average, the Broadcast treatment had been exposed to the stimulation for 10 days. Piglets in the Broadcast treatment were heavier (p<0.01) at day 14 of lactation compared to Control treatment (4.24 and 3.92 kg, respectively) and tended to have a greater average daily weight gain over the 7-d period (245 and 228 g/day, respectively; p<0.08). The results suggest piglet growth was improved by about 8% in response to the regular, timed broadcast of sow suckling grunts in the lactation shed. The independent contributions of milk and creep feed to the improved growth remain to be determined.

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