Pig behaviour in relation to weather conditions – a review

Katarzyna Olczak 1 , Jacek Nowicki 1 , and Czesław Klocek 1
  • 1 Department of Swine and Small Animal Breeding, Institute of Animal Science, University of Agriculture, Al. Mickiewicza 24/28, 30-059 Kraków, Poland


Weather conditions (temperature, humidity, solar radiation, air pressure, wind strength, wind direction and precipitation) have a significant impact on the behaviour of farm animals. Pigs have developed a wide range of thermoregulatory behaviours that are particular for this species. With increases in temperature the most characteristic behaviour for pigs is decreased activity and increased wallowing in wet surfaces. In addition to this, rooting and wallowing are highly influenced by temperature and humidity. The lack of possibility to express these behaviours leads to development of stereotypies. Interestingly, low temperatures do not increase the use of shelter if not in combination with wind or precipitation. Furthermore, wild pigs build stronger nests in severe conditions. Also, resting behaviour and reproduction may be disturbed by high temperatures. There is a negative impact of foehn wind on boars’ libido and semen parameters.

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Aarnink A.J.A., Schrama J.W., Heetkamp M.J.W., Stefanowska J., Huynh T.T.T. (2006). Temperature and body weight affect fouling of pig pens. J. Anim. Sci., 84: 2224-2231.

  • Adamiak A., Kondracki S., Wysoki ńska A. (2010). Influence of season of the year on physical properties of ejaculates from Polish Large White and Polish Landrace boars (in Polish). Rocz. Nauk. Zoot., 37: 159-167.

  • Algers B., Uvnäs- Moberg K. (2007). Maternal behavior in pigs. Horm. Behav., 52: 78-85.

  • Andresen N., Redbo I. (1999). Foraging behaviour of growing pigs on grassland in relation to stocking rate and feed crude protein level. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 62: 183-197.

  • Banaszewska D., Kondracki S., Wysoki ńska A. (2007). The influence of the season on the sperm morphology young boars used for insemination (in Polish). Acta Sci. Pol., Zootechnica, 6: 3-14.

  • Barnett J.L., Hemsworth P.H., Cronin G.M., Jongman E.C., Hutson G.D. (2001). Areview of the welfare issues for sows and piglets in relation to housing. Aust. J. Agric. Res., 52: 1-28.

  • Blackshaw J.K., Blackshaw A.W. (1994). Shade-seeking and lying behaviour in pigs of mixed sex and age, with access to outside pens. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 39: 249-257.

  • Bracke M.B.M. (2011). Review of wallowing in pigs: Description of the behaviour and its motivational basis. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 132: 1-13.

  • Briedermann L. (1971). Ermittlungen zur Aktivitatsperiodik des Mitteleuropaischen wildschweines (Sus, scrofa L). Zoologische Garten, 40: 302-327.

  • Buckner L.J., Edwards S.A., Bruce J.M. (1998). Behaviour and shelter use by outdoor sows. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 57: 69-80.

  • Burne T.H., Murfitt P.J., Gilbert C. (2001). Influence of environmental temperature on PGF2α-induced nest building in female pigs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 71: 293-304.

  • Chenoweth P.J. (1981). Libido and mating behavior in bulls, boars and rams. Areview. Theriogenology, 16: 155-177.

  • De Oliveira J únior G.M., Ferreira A.S., Oliveira R.F.M., Silva B.A.N.,de Figueiredo E.M., Santos M. (2011). Behaviour and performance of lactating sows housed in different types of farrowing rooms during summer. Livest. Sci., 141: 194-201.

  • Edge H.L., Bulman C.A., Edwards S.A. (2005). Alternatives to nose-ringing in outdoor sows: the provision of root crops. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 92: 15-26. EFSA (2007). The risks associated with tail biting in pigs and possible means to reduce the need for tail docking considering the different housing and husbandry systems - Scientific Opinion of the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare. Annex to the EFSA Journal, 611: 1-13.

  • Farrell D.J. (1977). Effects of high temperature on the biological performance of growing pigs. Proc. RAAN Conference, 1965, pp. 152-160.

  • Geers R., Goedseels V., Parduyns G., Vercruysse G. (1986). The group postural behaviour of growing pigs in relation to air velocity, air and floor temperature. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 16: 353-362.

  • Hillmann E., Mayer C., Schön P.C., Puppe B., Schrader L. (2004). Vocalisation of domestic pigs (Sus scrofa domestica) as an indicator for their adaptation towards ambient temperatures. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 89: 195-206.

  • H örning B., Raskopf S., Simantke C., Boehnke E., Walter J., Schneider M. (1999). Argemäe Schweinehaltung. Grundlagen und Beispiele aus der Praxis (Species-suited pig husbandry. Principles and Examples from Practice). Stiftung Ökologie & Landbau, Bad Dürkheim, Germany.

  • Huynh T.T.T., Aarnink A.J.A., Gerrits W.J.J., Heetkamp M.J.H., Canh T.T., Spool-der H.A.M., Verstegen M.W.A. (2005). Thermal behaviour of growing pigs in response to high temperature and humidity. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 91: 1-16.

  • Huynh T.T.T., Aarnink A.J.A., Heetkamp M.J.W., Verstegen M.W.A., Kemp B. (2007). Evaporative heat loss from group-housed growing pigs at high ambient temperatures. J. Therm. Biol., 32: 293-299.

  • Ingram D.L., Legge K.F. (1970). The thermoregulatory behavior of young pigs inanatural environment. Physiol. Behav., 5: 981-987.

  • Johnson K., Mitloehner F.M., Morrow J.L., Mc Glone J.J. (2008). Effects of shaded versus unshaded wallows on behavior, performance, and physiology of the outdoor lactating sow.

  • J.Anim. Sci., 86: 3628-3634. Knecht D., Duzi ński K. (2014). The effect of parity and date of service on the reproductive performance of Polish Large White × Polish Landrace (PLW × PL) crossbred sows. Ann. Anim. Sci., 14: 69-79.

  • Kondracki S., Antolik A., Zwierz B. (1997). Characters of boar semen depending on the season of the year (in Polish). Rocz. Nauk. Zoot., 24: 67-76.

  • Kozdrowski R., Dubiel A. (2004). The effect of season on the properties of wild boar (Sus scrofa L.) semen. Anim. Reprod. Sci., 80: 281-289.

  • Mayer J.J., Martin F.D., Brisbin I.L. (2002). Characteristics of wild pig farrowing nests and beds in the upper Coastal Plain of South Carolina. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 78: 1-17.

  • Mroczek J.R. (2001). Wpływ mikroklimatu budynków inwentarskich na produkcyjność trzody chlewnej (in Polish). Trz. Chlewna, 39: 102-105.

  • Muecher H., Ungeheuer H. (1961). Meteorological influence on reaction time, flicker fusion frequency, job accidents, and use of medical treatment. Perceptual and Motor Skills, Southern Universities Press, 12: 163-168.

  • Nowicki J., Moskała E., Kopyra M. (2008). Behavioural response of newly mixed weaners toahanging wooden ball andafree ball in the pen. Ann. Anim. Sci., 8: 63-69.

  • Nowicki J., Klocek C. (2012). The effect of aromatized environmental enrichment in pen on social relations and behavioural profile of newly mixed weaners. Ann. Anim. Sci., 12: 403-412.

  • Olsen A.W. (2001). Behaviour of growing pigs kept in pens with outdoor runs I. Effect of access to roughage and shelter on oral activities. Livest. Prod. Sci., 69: 255-264.

  • Olsen A.W., Simonsen H.B. (2001). Behaviour of growing pigs kept in pens with outdoor runs. II. Temperature regulatory behaviour, comfort behaviour and dunging preferences. Livest. Prod. Sci., 69: 265-278.

  • Orlicki S., Migdał W. (2006). Influence of weather conditions on semen indices of boars. Ann. Anim. Sci., Suppl., 2/1: 101-105.

  • Rodr íguez - Estévez V., S ánchez- Rodr íguez M., G ómez- Castro A.G., Ed -wards S. (2010). Group sizes and resting locations of free range pigs when grazing inanatural environment. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 127: 28-36.

  • S ällvik K., Walberg K. (1984). The effects of air velocity and temperature on the behaviour and growth of pigs. J. Agric. Eng. Res., 30: 305-312.

  • Scheepens C.J.M., Hessing M.J.C., Laarakker E., Schouten W.G.P., Tielen M.J.M. (1991). Influences of intermittent daily draught on the behaviour of weaned pigs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 31: 69-82.

  • Shi Z., Li B., Zhang X., Wang C., Zhou D., Zhang G. (2006). Using floor cooling as an approach to improve the thermal environment in the sleeping area in an open pig house. Biosyst. Eng., 93: 359-364.

  • Silva B.A.N., Noblet J., Donzele J.L., Oliveira R.F.M., Primot Y., Gourdine J.L., Renaudeau D. (2009 a). Effects of dietary protein level and amino acid supplementation on performance of mixed-parity lactating sows inatropical humid climate. J. Anim. Sci., 87: 4003-4012.

  • Silva B.A.N., Oliveira R.F.M., Donzele J.L., Fernandes H.C., Lima A.L., Renau-deau D., Noblet J. (2009 b). Effect of floor cooling and dietary amino acids content on performance and behaviour of lactating primiparous sows during summer. Livest. Sci., 120: 25-34.

  • Smulders D., Verbeke G., Morm ède P., Geers R. (2006). Validation ofabehavioral observation tool to assess pig welfare. Physiol. Behav., 89: 438-447.

  • Spencer S. (1919). Pigs, breeds and management. London,UK, Vinton, 68 pp.

  • Spoolder H.A.M., Aarnink A.J.A., Vermeer H.M., Riel J. Van, Edwards S.A. (2012). Effect of increasing temperature on space requirements of group housed finishing pigs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 138: 229-239.

  • Stolba A., Wood - Gush E.G.M. (1989). The behaviour of pigs inasemi-natural environment. Anim. Prod., 48: 419-425.

  • Swiergiel A.H. (1997). Modifications of operant thermoregulatory behavior of the young pig by environmental temperature and food availability. Physiol. Behav., 63: 119-125.

  • Trepińska J., Piotrowicz K., B ąkowski R., Bolechała F. (2006). Weather and suicides (in Polish). Balneologia Polska, 1: 51-55. Williams A. (2012). Effects of heat stress on reproduction and productivity of primiparous sows and their piglets’ performance. Pro Quest, UMI Dissertation Publishing, 15 pp.

  • Wingfield J.C., Sapolsky R. (2003). Reproduction and resistance to stress: when and how. J. Neuroendocrinol., 15: 711-724.

  • Wischner D., Kemper N., Krieter J. (2009). Nest-building behaviour in sows and consequences for pig husbandry. Livest. Sci., 124: 1-8.

  • Zervanos S.M., Hadley N.F. (1973). Adaptational biology and energy relationships of the collared peccary (Tayassu tajacu). Ecology, 54: 759.


Journal + Issues