Effect of Olfactory Stimulation during Suckling on Agonistic Behaviour in Weaned Pigs

The application of a banana scent to the skin of the mammary glands increased milk consumption by the piglets, according to researchers based in Espinardo, Spain. While the treatment did not affect post-weaning performance was applied to the feed trough, the presence of the banana scent during the suckling phase was associated with less aggressive behaviour in these piglets.
calendar icon 23 February 2012
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In a paper published in Journal of Swine Health and Production, María Fuentes and colleagues at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Espinardo in Murcia, Spain report their investigation into the effect of olfactory stimulation during suckling on the welfare of weaned pigs.

They used six control group sows and six treatment (‘Banana’) group sows, each with 10 piglets. Treatment consisted of daily topical application of isoamyl acetate (banana scent) on the skin of the sows’ mammary glands during the 21 days of suckling.

Preference of the piglets for the banana scent was tested with a V-maze at four and 21 days of age.

After weaning, pigs were regrouped into groups of 10. For the Banana group, feeders were scented with isoamyl acetate for the 15 days after weaning. During the first five hours after regrouping, a video camera was used to record non–agonistic, aggressive and submissive behaviours.

Pigs were weighed on their day of birth and at 21 and 35 days of age. Feed consumed was weighed during suckling and for 15 days post weaning.

The researchers noted that the Banana group pigs spent more time in the scented arm of the V-maze. They weighed more after weaning and had greater average daily gain than the control piglets (P<0.05).

During the post–weaning observation period, Banana group pigs showed more non–agonistic and submissive behaviours and less aggressive behaviour (P<0.05). Feed consumption and average daily gain did not differ between treatment groups.

The implication of this work, according to Fuentes and colleagues, is that application of the sow’s mammary glands with banana scent stimulates milk consumption and that treatment of the feeder with the same scent after weaning is associated with less aggressive behaviour, but not with better growth.


Fuentes M., J. Otal, M.L. Hevia, A. Quiles and F.C. Fuentes. 2012. Effect of olfactory stimulation during suckling on agonistic behaviour in weaned pigs. J Swine Health Prod. 20(1):25–33.

Further Reading

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February 2012
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