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COMMON FEATURES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES IN NURSE GRUNTING OF DOMESTIC PIGS (SUS SCROFA): A MULTI-PARAMETRIC ANALYSIS

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The nursing vocalisation of domestic pigs was investigated with respect to common features and individual differences. The sow's repeated grunting during nursing can be regarded as a contact call and a signal of the mother to start and synchronise the suckling behaviour of the piglets. Analyses in the time domain revealed the gross structure of the call, whereas in the frequency domain the fine structure of single grunts was investigated. Three parameter groups with parameter vectors extracted from single grunts centred around the maximum of the grunting rate were used for classification of frequency patterns. The parameter vectors were compared by a discriminant function analysis. The main results are: (1) a strong correlation in the time course of the nurse grunting between the sows; (2) an individual frequency pattern of the single grunts as demonstrated by the discriminant analysis with erroneous discriminations of less than 1.6% if an optimum set of features of the amplitude spectrum was included. Thus, it can be concluded that a common structure of the time course of the nurse grunting is the typical inter-individual characteristic of the vocalisation. Individual differences between sows occurred in the absolute grunting rate, however. Major individual differences were found in the frequency pattern of the single grunts and were expressed over the whole frequency range of a grunt. Hence, based on the parameter groups 'whole amplitude spectrum' and 'cepstrum', individual sows could well be distinguished whereas this was not the case using only single features of the amplitude spectra. Taken together, the results show that there is a species-typical pattern in the nurse grunting that could be recognised by all piglets, and an individual label that could be used to discriminate the own mother from other nursing sows.

10.1163/156853999500668
/content/journals/10.1163/156853999500668
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/content/journals/10.1163/156853999500668
1999-01-01
2016-09-29

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