Nicolas Devillers

Current research and/or projects

I'm a research scientist specialised in pig behaviour and welfare. In the last years, my research has mainly focused on the impact of housing and management, including human-animal relationship, on maternal behaviour of lactating sows and social and cognitive development of piglets. I've also worked on the developement of methods for the assessement of welfare of sows and piglets. More recently, I started a research program on alternative production systems, such as pasture-based systems.

Research and/or project statements

Analysis of alternative integrated crop/livestock production systems using life cycle assessment

  • Model integrated agro-ecological crop/livestock production systems to determine their environmental efficiency, as well as potential levers for improvement, using a life cycle analysis from farm to fork.
  • Evaluate the efficiency of these alternative production systems and networks by socio-economic analysis at the farm level, but also downstream by considering the processing, transport, storage and distribution of food products.

Potential of outdoor systems as an alternative to pork conventional production:

  • Survey of economic and technical characteristics of alternative swine production systems
  • Gestating sow preferences for fresh and dry forages
  • Value of fresh or dry forage in the feeding of outdoor gestating sows
  • Sow preference based on forage conservation mode
  • Impact of different types of farrowing huts on the behaviour and performance of sows and their piglets at pasture
  • Strategies for managing high temperature at pasture

Impact of early experience with humans on the human-animal relationship in piglets

  • Development of behavioural tests to assess human reactivity of piglets and a conditioning protocol to associate humans with positive or negative stimuli
  • Process of human recognition and generalization in piglets following positive and/or negative conditioning
  • Emotions and cognitive bias in weaned piglets as a result of human experience

Professional activities / interests

  • Ethology / Animal behaviour
  • Swine
  • Alternative production systems
  • Animal welfare
  • Maternal behaviour

Key publications

  1. TALLET C., COURBOULAY V., DEVILLERS N., MEUNIER-SALAÜN M.-C., PRUNIER A., & VILLAIN A. (2020). Mieux connaître le comportement du porc pour une bonne relation avec les humains en élevage. INRAE Productions Animales, 33(2), 81-94.

    2020 - View publication details

  2. Prunier A., Devillers N., Herskin M.S., Sandercock D.A., Sinclair A.R.L., Tallet C., von Borell E. 2020. Husbandry interventions in suckling piglets, painful consequences and mitigation. In: The suckling and weaning piglet (Farmer C., Ed.), Wageningen Academic Publishers (Wagneningen, The Netherlands), pp. 107-138.

    2020 - View publication details

  3. Tallet, C., Hötzel, M.J., Devillers, N. 2020. Fearfulness. In: Pigs welfare in practice (Ed. I. Camerlink). Sheffield, UK, 5m Publishing: 62-63.

    2020 - View publication details

  4. Aubé L., Guay F., Bergeron R., Bélanger G., Tremblay G., Devillers N. 2018. Sows' preferences for different fresh and dry mixed forages. 13th North-American regional meeting of the International Society for Applied Ethology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, 12-13 May 2017, p.37.

    2017 - View publication details

  5. Devillers, N., Delijani, F., Janvier, E., Méthot, S., Dick, K., Zhang, Q., and Connor, L. (2016). "Impact of slat and gap widths of concrete slatted floor on sow gait using kinematics.", Banff Pork Seminar 2016, Banff, AB, Canada, January 12-14, 2016.

    2016 - View publication details

  6. Brajon, S., LaForest, J.-P., Schmitt, O., and Devillers, N. (2015). "Positive contact with humans can improve learning performance and emotional states of animals: a study in piglets.", International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ) 2015 conference, Saratoga Springs, New York, USA, July 7- 9, 2015.

    2015 - View publication details

  7. Conte, S., Bergeron, R., Gonyou, H.W., Brown, J.R., Lang, F., Connor, L., and Devillers, N. (2014). "Use of a force plate to assess lameness in sows.", Banff Pork Seminar 2014, Banff, AB, Canada, January 21-23, 2014.

    2014 - View publication details

  8. Gil, M., Faucitano, L., Talbot, G., Devillers, N., and Saucier, L. (2014). "Influence of preslaughter feed withdrawal applied either at the farm or at the abattoir on carcass microbial quality.", Canadian Meat Council's 94th Annual Conference, Toronto, ON, Canada, May 7-9, 2014.

    2014 - View publication details

  9. Gil, M., Faucitano, L., Talbot, G., Devillers, N., Guay, F., Gosselin, A., Desjardins, Y., and Saucier, L. (2014). "Pre-slaughter strategies to improve the microbial quality of pork carcasses.", International Union of Microbiological Societies Congress (IUMS 2014), Montréal, QC, Canada, July 27-August 1, 2014.

    2014 - View publication details

  10. Saucier, L., Faucitano, L., Devillers, N., Talbot, G., and Guay, F. (2014). Des stratégies pour l’amélioration de la qualité de la viande de porc. Final report submitted to MAPAQ, 16 p. (Report)

    2014 - View publication details

  11. Conte, S., Bergeron, R., Grégoire, J., Gète, M., D'Allaire, S., Meunier-Salaün, M.-C., and Devillers, N. (2014). "On-farm evaluation of methods to assess welfare of gestating sows.", Animal, 8(7), pp. 1153-1161. doi : 10.1017/S1751731114000949

    2014 - View publication details

  12. Devillers, N. (2013). "How does Canada deal with the issues of animal welfare and sow group housing?", 64th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP), Nantes, France, August 26-30, 2013.

    2013 - View publication details

  13. Nalon, E., Conte, S., Maes, D., Tuyttens, F.A.M., and Devillers, N. (2013). "Assessment of lameness and claw lesions in sows.", 9th International Veterinary Behaviour Meeting (IVBM), Lisbon, Portugal, September 26-29, 2013.

    2013 - View publication details

  14. Brajon, S., LaForest, J.-P., and Devillers, N. (2013). "Les porcelets sont-ils capables de reconnaître les humains?", 38ème congrès annuel de la SQEBC (Société Québécoise pour l’Étude Biologique du Comportement), Montréal, QC, Canada, novembre 8-10, 2013.

    2013 - View publication details

  15. Conte, S., Bergeron, R., Gonyou, H.W., Brown, J.A., Devillers, N., and Connor, L. (2013). "Development of a force plates scale to measure weight distribution and lameness in gestating sows.", 64th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP), Nantes, France, August 26-30, 2013.

    2013 - View publication details

  16. Gil, M., Faucitano, L., Talbot, G., Devillers, N., and Saucier, L. (2013). "Stratégies pré-abattage pour améliorer la qualité microbiologique des carcasses de porc.", Congrès de bactériologie intégrative: symbiose & pathogenèse (BiSP), Québec, QC, Canada, novembre 28-29, 2013.

    2013 - View publication details

  17. Nalon, E., Conte, S., Maes, D., Tuyttens, F.A.M., and Devillers, N. (2013). "Evaluation of lameness and claw lesions in sows.", Livestock Science. doi : 10.1016/j.livsci.2013.06.003

    2013 - View publication details

  18. Weschenfelder, A.V., Torrey, S., Devillers, N., Crowe, T.G., Bassols, A., Saco, Y., Piñeiro, M., Saucier, L., and Faucitano, L. (2012). "Effects of trailer design on animal welfare parameters and carcass and meat quality of three Pietrain crosses being transported over a long distance.", Journal of Animal Science, 90(9), pp. 3220-3231. doi : 10.2527/jas.2011-4676

    2012 - View publication details

  19. Devillers, N. (2012). "L’influence des relations homme-animal sur le stress des animaux et leurs performances.", 2ème journée porcine de l’Estrie, Sherbrooke, QC, Canada, February 2, 2012.

    2012 - View publication details

  20. Farmer, C. and Devillers, N. (2012). "Une tétine utilisée en première parité donnera plus de lait en deuxième parité!", Porc Québec, 23(4), pp. 26-30.

    2012 - View publication details

Research facility

2000 College Street
Sherbrooke, QC J1M 1Z3


International Society for Applied Ethology

Société Québécoise pour l'Étude Biologique du Comportement

Adjunct Professor, Département des Sciences Animales, Université Laval (QC)

Adjunct Professor, Department of Animal Science, University of Manitoba (MB)

Adjunct Professor, Department of Environment and Geography, Bishop's University (QC)