The responses of growing pigs to a chronic-intermittent stress treatment

Kenneth M. D. Rutherford*, Marie J. Haskell, Chris Glasbey, Alistair B. Lawrence

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Many of the stressor treatments used in animal models of depression have parallels in the normal experiences of domestic pigs. The experiment described here aimed to assess whether a chronic-intermittent stress regime caused behavioural or physiological changes, indicative of depression, in domestic pigs.

Ten juvenile male pigs were exposed to a social and environmental stress regime. Over the stressor period, weight gain was significantly lower in test pigs than in control pigs. Stress treatment had a significant effect on salivary cortisol levels, with test pigs having a higher salivary cortisol concentration than control pigs after the stress treatment but not before. Test pigs showed less ventral lying than control pigs in the post-stress observation. A detrended fluctuation analysis (DFA) of postural behavioural organisation showed that test pigs had a more structured pattern of activity than controls in the post-stress observation and a tendency towards a more structured pattern in the pre-stress observation. There were no major behavioural differences between the two groups during three repeated open field tests.

The results suggest that the stressor treatment did create a mild chronic stress, as indicated by the hypercortisolaemia and lower weight gain in the test pigs. However, no unambiguous behavioural indicators of depression were seen. The behavioural analysis did show that fractal techniques, such as DFA, could be applied to pig behaviour and that they can reveal extra novel information about the structure of an individual's behavioural organisation and how it changes in response to complex environmental stressors. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-680
Number of pages11
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Volume89
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2006

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • pigs
  • stress
  • fractal analysis
  • detrended fluctuation analysis
  • behaviour
  • DETRENDED FLUCTUATION ANALYSIS
  • PITUITARY-ADRENOCORTICAL AXIS
  • LONG-RANGE CORRELATIONS
  • SINGLE SOCIAL DEFEAT
  • CHRONIC MILD STRESS
  • HEART-RATE
  • INDIVIDUAL AGGRESSIVENESS
  • TREE SHREWS
  • BEHAVIOR
  • DEPRESSION

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