Date of Award

Spring 2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Alen Hajnal

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Thomas D. Parsons

Committee Member 3

David J. Echevarria

Committee Member 3 Department


Committee Member 4

Donald Sacco

Committee Member 4 Department



Legislative and market initiatives are requiring that gestating sows move from individual housing to group settings. Little information is known about coping styles of individual sows in these more socially complex environments and thus the impact of different behavioral strategies on sow reproductive success and efficiency was investigated. The movements of 70 sows during periods of reintroduction into large pen gestational housing following insemination was measured with a commercially available system that tracked animal location and accelerations. Principle component analysis (PCA) was used to establish composite variables characterizing each animal’s behavioral response to social reintroduction and revealed the presence of two new variables accounting for over 60% of the variance in behaviors: one pertaining to total movement and the other pertaining to social dominance/rapid movements. Component scores of total movement predicted measures of reproductive successes whereas social dominance/rapid movements predicted piglet birthweight. These findings suggest that different coping styles as measured by an automated, non-invasive, real time tracking system are correlated with the productivity of sows housing in socially complex settings.