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© 2020 Legislative and market initiatives are requiring that gestating sows move from individual housing to group settings. Little information is known about coping of individual sows in these more socially complex environments and thus the impact of different behaviors on sow reproductive success was investigated. The movements of 70 sows during periods of reintroduction into large pen gestational housing following insemination was measured using Smartbow indoor positioning technology (Smartbow, Smartbow GmbH, Weibern, Austria) 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 success whereas social dominance/rapid movements predicted piglet birth weight. These findings suggest that differences in behavioral variables as measured by Smartbow's automated, non-invasive, real time tracking system are correlated with productivity of sows housing in socially complex settings.

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Applied Animal Behaviour Science