Restriction of nest-building behaviour could generate an increase in physiological stress, resulting in a decrease in endogenous hormones, especially oxytocin, which is recognized for its effect on reproductive and behavioural characteristics in mammals, and modulation of maternal behaviour, parturition, and lactation in wide range of mammals. Oxutocin is also related to the stress reaction, that it reduces anxiety and that it plays a part in emotional reactions in social situations. This study evaluated the effects of provision of space and abundant nesting materials on actual nest-building behaviour and circulating oxytocin concentrations in prepartum sows. In addition, it also investigated whether facilitating prepartum nest-building behaviour could improve postpartum maternal characteristics during early lactation, possibly because of elevated oxytocin concentrations in sows.
It appears that nest-building behaviour in prepartum sows could be enhanced by the provision of nesting materials and increase oxytocin concentration. This resulted in improved sow metabolic status, successful colostrum intake measured via neonatal piglet serum IgG and IgM concentrations, and maternal carefulness behaviour during early lactation. This may have potential to increase piglet survival and growth performance during lactation.
Doctoral Dissertation: Importance of maternal behaviour and circulating oxytocin for successful lactation in sows : Effects of prepartum housing environment is is publicly available here: