Self-Administration of a Boar Priming Pheromone Stimulates Puberty in Gilts without Boar Exposure


Labor is in short supply in animal agriculture. One time-consuming task is estrus detection in gilts. Stimulation with a live boar causes the onset of puberty in young gilts. Typically, a live boar is used to stimulate and identify estrus in the gilts by exposing the gilts to him. Recently, a boar pheromone (BB) was developed to replace the use of a live boar for sows. Additionally, a novel automatic sprayer used as environmental enrichment (EE) by gilts for the self-administration of BB has been developed by this laboratory. A commercial study was conducted to determine whether the use of a live boar could be replaced with a simple EE sprayer, allowing gilts to self-administer BB. Our objective was to determine whether the number and percentage of gilts in estrus obtained using live boars was comparable to self-administration using an EE sprayer containing BB. A total of 242 gilts were randomly assigned to either a live boar (BOAR) or BB self-administration using the environmental enrichment (EE) sprayer. Gilts began simultaneous exposure to either the BOAR or the BB when they were about 4–5 months of age and this continued until they were found in estrus or were injured, died, or never cycled about 2 months later. A total of 83.3% of gilts with exposure to BOAR were identified in estrus and bred, while exposure to BB resulted in 92.9% of gilts reaching puberty and being bred (p < 0.05). The days to reach estrus were 11 days longer for gilts exposed to BB than BOAR. Eight percent more gilts were injured by the BOAR than by using BB (and no boar). The use of BB as a priming pheromone could prevent gilt injuries, save labor, and reduce costs for pig farmers while not inhibiting reproductive output.


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behavior, estrus, gilts, pheromone, pigs


McGlone, J.J., Duke, L., Sanchez, M., & Garcia, A.. 2024. Self-Administration of a Boar Priming Pheromone Stimulates Puberty in Gilts without Boar Exposure. Animals, 14(1).