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Conference abstract, 2016

Oxytocin candidate genes and maternal behaviour of sows

Rydhmer, Lotta; Jonas, Elisabeth


Oxytocin affects calmness, milk let-down and maternal behaviour. But measuring the hormone level in blood is difficult as frequent sampling is required. In this study we therefore decided to investigate candidate genes for oxytocin and behaviour, instead of measuring blood levels of oxytocin. One hundred Swedish Yorkshire sows in pens without crates were studied during farrowing and lactation at an experimental farm. Behaviour traits were recorded with a questionnaire answered by the staff at d 1, d 5 and d 21. It included nest building, sows' carefulness and reaction to piglets, anxiety, fear of humans and aggression. Farrowing and nursing were recorded with video cameras. Sow body weight and body condition during lactation, piglet growth and survival were also recorded. Nine genes related to maternal behaviour and the regulation of oxytocin were identified in the literature: Fosb and Peg3 on chromosome (SSC) 6, CD38 on SSC8, AVPR1B and Grb10 on SSC9, Oxyr on SSC13, Oxy and AVP on SSC17 and Mest on SSC18. Fragments from these genes were sequenced to identify SNP markers. These SNP and some known SNP located close to the candidate genes were used to genotype the sows. There was genetic variation in all candidate genes; 31 out of 45 markers segregated. Associations between markers and behavioural traits have been analysed using generalised linear models. There is phenotypic variation between sows with regard to nest building, being careful with newborn piglets, anxiety, and reaction to piglets when returning from weighing. Aggression towards humans and anxiety are repeated from day 1 to day 21. It was found that 29% of the sows had no colostrum in the udder on the day before farrowing. We have identified significant associations between some genes and some behavioural traits. Further investigations are ongoing.

Published in

Annual meeting of the European Association for Animal Production
2016, number: 22, pages: 529-529
Book title: Book of Abstracts of the 67th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
ISBN: 978-90-8686-284-9, eISBN: 978-90-8686-830-8
Publisher: Wageningen Academic Publishers


67th Annual Meeting of the European Association for Animal Production (EAAP)