The information behind the behavior of our farm pigs

How many times have you asked yourself: what is this pig  thinking?

They don’t have to talk to us to communicate their needs. The simple observation of their behavior provides valuable information about their health and well-being, guiding us so that we can best meet their requirements.

Sometimes, the daily routine can make us miss warning signs that can be useful to detect anomalies on the farm, being important to be aware of them in order to find solutions as soon as possible.

What are these signs?


  • Sitting dog posture: in young pigs this may be indicative of illness or stress.
  • Backward-facing ears: may also be related to illness or stress.In piglets with Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), it is common to have ears directed backwards, dolphin head, bulging eyes and wrinkles in the mouth area.

  • Lying down laterally with the extremities stretched out: This position indicates that the animal is relaxed. In the case of lactating sows, it is important to maximize the access of the piglets to the breasts so that they can drink colostrum and milk.


Tears with blood 

The scientific term for this phenomenon is chromodacryorrhea. It is not real blood, but a phenomenon that occurs when the pig is stressed, so that a gland under the eyelid begins to release fluid, leaving a brown halo around the eye.

If more than 10% of pigs have these spots, it’s an indication of a stress problem

 Tail biting 

When pigs are stressed, they can react in two ways: aggressively or by being passive and withdrawn.

Studies show that when tail (or flank) bites occur, there will be visible marks for about 1 week before more severe injuries appear.

During this week, it is possible to identify and correct the stressor, preventing this behavior from leading to more serious injuries.

 Meconium in newborn piglets 

Meconium spots (first stools) may indicate that the piglet has been stressed during birth. Among the possible causes of this phenomenon, it is worth mentioning the prolongation of labor.

The increase in litter size has meant a prolongation of labor and if the piglets are stressed during this process, they may defecate and inhale the meconium, causing respiratory problems at birth.

 Exaggerated exploratory behavior 

Pigs normally sleep for 18-20 hours/day. If increased activity and exploratory behavior is observed, it could be a sign of stress.


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