Discovery Park Undergraduate Research Internship Program

"Thermal preference of sows"

About the Project

Project Time & Type:
Spring 2016 - DURI
Research area(s):
Animal Behavior, Animal Welfare
Project Description:
Seasonal infertility is estimated to cost producers $55 per sow each year despite improved cooling systems and management practices that are designed to mitigate heat stress based on data from 20 years ago when metabolic heat production in pigs was less (due to reduced growth rates and muscling) than in current commercial lines. Therefore, this research project will re-evaluate thermal condition categories (i.e., thermoneutral, mild heat stress, moderate heat stress, severe heat stress, extreme heat stress) in replacement gilts, derived from modern genetic lines that are likely more sensitive to heat stress due to genetic improvements in growth that have increased metabolic heat production. In turn, U.S. pork producers will be provided with up to date data that can be used to inform more effective management decisions that can reduce the impact of heat stress on pig seasonality. Therefore, study objectives are 1.) To re-establish thermal condition categories , based on sow perception, with current genetics to improve management practices and animal welfare, and 2.) To evaluate if thermal preference is altered by sow parity
Expected Student Contributions:
The intern will assist with coding and analyzing video of pigs to determine their preference for different temperatures. Location (which temperature they are in), behavior, and posture will be recorded. There is a possibility of the student helping with the next round of testing planned to begin in the late spring.
Related Website(s):
Desired Qualifications:
Prior experience with behavioral coding is preferred but not required. Attention to detail, conscientiousness, motivation, and dedication are more important. Other skills may include: previous experience with data entry, database management, or other research experience
Estimated Weekly Hours:
Department awards independent research credits for this project?

Professor in Charge

Gaskill, Brianna
comparative pathobiology

Student Supervisor

Brianna Gaskill
Assistant Professor, Animal Welfare

Cooperating Faculty

Jay Johnson