Applied Animal Behaviour Science
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Fattening of intact boars is the least invasive alternative to the detrimental welfare effects of surgicalcastration of piglets. However, beside problems such as boar taint the divergent agonistic and sexualbehaviour of boars may impair the pigs’ welfare during fattening. To evaluate the effect of sex on agonisticinteractions a total of 108 female, 108 castrated male and 108 entire male German crossbred pigs withan initial average body weight of 25 kg were kept in nine pens during three replicates with 12 pigsper pen respectively (1.2 m2per pig) separated by sex. Pigs were slaughthered at about 115 kg bodyweight. Agonistic behaviour was recorded 24 h before and 24 h after, and skin lesion scores (from 0to 3) were recorded four days before and three days after half of the pigs have been removed in eachpen for slaugthering. In addition, the daily activity pattern of groups was examined by a motion sensorsystem during 72 h before removing half of the pigs of a group. The frequency of mounting, knockingand fighting was significantly higher in entire males both before and after removing half of the pigs fromgroups. Disturbance of social structure by removing half of the pigs per group did not affect the totalnumber of agonistic interactions in any sex. Entire males showed a higher incidence of skin lesions atthe neck and the ham before, and at the shoulder after half of the pigs were removed for slaughtering.However, the severest lesion score 3 was not found in any group and for score 2 the highest incidenceof 3.7% was found at the shoulder of entire males after removing half of the pigs per group. The activitypattern of the pigs was not affected by sex. It was concluded that under housing conditions used in thepresent study (ad libitum feeding and low stocking density) fattening of entire male pigs can be donewithout severe detrimental effects on their welfare.