Auditory brainstem responses in weaning pigs and three ages of sows

Nichole Chapel Anderson, Stephanie A. Thomovsky, Jeffrey R. Lucas, Tokiko Kushiro-Banker, John Scott Radcliffe, Kara R. Stewart, Donald C. Lay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Piglet crushing is a devastating welfare concern on swine farms; however, some sows appear unresponsive to a piglet's call. Sow hearing ability is rarely considered despite the extensive body of research performed on crushing. In this study, pigs of four age groups (weaning, n = 7; gilts, n = 5; 2nd and 3rd parity, n = 5; 5th parity and up, n = 5) were anesthetized and auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) were performed to measure if pig hearing diminishes with age in a mechanically ventilated barn. Before testing, pigs were placed in a sound dampening box. ABRs were performed on animals using 1,000 clicks at two decibel (dB) levels: 90 and 127 dB sound pressure level. Latencies and amplitudes of waves I-V were measured and interpeak latencies for waves I-III, III-V, and I-V were calculated. Five pigs (three 2nd and 3rd parity, and two 5th parity and above) had no detectable waves at either decibel. Sows in 2nd and 3rd parities had very few distinguishable waves, with only wave I and II present in two sows. Amplitudes of waves I and V increased with increased dB (P < 0.001). Increasing dB decreased the latency of each of the recorded waves (P < 0.01). The vast majority of commercial swine are raised in noisy barn environments; it is possible that these environments directly affect the ability for pigs to hear and normal hearing development in this population of animals. Hearing has a significant effect on swine welfare as hearing is integral to successful animal handing and during moments of animal-to-animal communication. Hearing is a considerable welfare issue on farms and ways to decrease pig hearing loss should be considered.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1416-1422
Number of pages7
JournalTranslational Animal Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society of Animal Science.


  • auditory brainstem responses
  • sow hearing loss
  • swine
  • swine hearing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • General Veterinary


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