, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 51-55
Date: 10 May 2005

Udder preference in wild boar piglets

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Competition to access the front teats in the domestic pig is strong during the first days of life, despite the fact that the number of piglets is fewer than the number of teats. Preference has been explained in terms of greater milk production (although it might also be the consequence rather than the cause), or reduced risk of crushing when the female lies down to begin a suckling session. Here, with the aim of determining whether one cause might be the body and reproductive modifications caused by artificial breeding, we analysed teat preferences of wild boar piglets in the wild. Fifty-one hunted females in lactation in the Western Iberian Peninsula were analysed. In contrast to domestic pigs, wild boar piglets showed a clear preference for rear udders. This preference was consistent for females of different ages and body characteristics, as well as for females hunted in different seasons. We suggest that the choice of rear udders in the wild boar may be related to the advantages of suckling at places offering higher protection from low temperatures and from predators, in contrast to domestic pigs, for which crushing is the main cause of mortality.