Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Animal Science

First Advisor

Jeremy N Marchant-Forde

Second Advisor

Brian T Richert

Committee Member 1

Jeremy N Marchant-Forde

Committee Member 2

Brian T Richert

Committee Member 3

Donald C Lay

Committee Member 4

Luiz Henrique Antunes Rodrigues


Farrowing crates represent approximately 88 % of the pig farrowing systems in the U.S. (USDA`s NAHMS, 2006). This farrowing system is very advantageous for production efficiency and management; however, it presents several pig welfare issues that are subject to concern. Generally, alternatives to farrowing crates provide a little more flexibility to the sows to communicate better with their litters, as well as to perform more exercise, posture changes, and more natural behaviors during lactation. A major concern with the alternative farrowing systems is the higher pre-wean mortality, especially due to piglet overlay. High pre-wean mortality rates impact not only the producer`s profitability, but also the welfare of young piglets. Several studies demonstrate a high variability of crushing rate among sows submitted to the same physical environment. It is possible that factors other than the system’s physical configuration may be affecting the maternal behavior of sows and causing increased crushing. Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate how environmental and management factors affect piglet crushing, as well as the duration and frequency of sow postures and posture changes.