Scan sampling techniques for behavioral validation in nursery pigs
Summary and implications
Behavioral observations are a type of "assay" that is used to quantify animal biological responses. As with physiological measurements, methods of behavioral observation should be validated and selected based on the objectives of the particular study. The objective of this study was to validate the accuracy of scan samples at various predetermined intervals for confined nursery pigs. Twenty, 35 day old PIC® (USA) nursery pigs were housed in four pens within a confinement building. Eight scan sample treatments (1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 15, 30, and 60 minutes) were individually compared to continuous observation. A scan sample was defined as the first second for each scan interval (1 minute scan sample intervals provided 60 selected scans of one second duration per pig per hour). The percentage of the total time observed for each behavior and posture were then calculated for each pen. Drinking differed (P = 0.0019) from che continuous data at intervals greater than 5 minutes or more. For all other behaviors and postures there were no (P > 0.05) differences berween scan treatments and the continuous data.
In conclusion, scan samples under these experimental conditions were accurate for all nursery pig behaviors and postures except drinking.