Facilitate the sow's farrowing with paper.
We all already know that the use of paper in the farrowing quarters is very helpful to reduce piglet mortality due to crushings. The supplying of paper before the farrowing is a proven and used practice. The piglets are born into a more comfortable environment (the thermal perception improves by +5°C; Casanovas, 2011), avoiding that after the farrowing the wet piglets slip on the plastic floor. But not everybody knows the important role of paper supplied to the sows as an improver of welfare in this special and difficult moment, because the sow cannot build its nest as in the wild. In its natural environment, the sow would start building its nest several days before farrowing. The impossibility of building the nest creates a state of anxiety in the sow typical of the coming of the farrowing. Inside the crate, the sow bites the bars, tries to root, and its heart and respiratory rate increase because of the frustrating situation. Yun et al. showed, in 2014, that the supply of plenty of material for building the nest causes an increase in the levels of oxytocin in plasma measured in blood. As we know well, oxytocin is the labour hormone that helps to expel the foetuses thanks to the the uterine contractions. It is easy to see the reaction of the sows (of all of them!) when we supply them with paper. A handful in front of their snout or at the reach of their mouth is enough... oxytocin! It is like giving an injection!