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Stimulating Exploratory Behavior in Piglets: Effects on Pre-Weaning Creep Consumption

Posted in: Pork Insight Articles, Prairie Swine Centre by admin on December 22, 2016

This study investigated whether pre-weaning creep consumption can be increased through stimulating exploratory behaviour in piglets, and whether this is best achieved through provision of enrichment (E) or through presentation of creep in a large shallow feeder. In order to examine differences between farms , studies were conducted at Prairie Swine Centre (PSC) as well as two commercial farms.

The enrichment treatment (E) consisted of cotton ropes hung in the farrowing pens, and was compared to pens with no enrichment. Each pen was also given one of two types of feeders; a standard feeder or a large tray feeder, giving four different treatment combinations. Results indicate that piglets provided with E interacted with it in 5% of observations. Overall, the tray feeder resulted in a greater frequency of piglet visits to the creep feeder compared to a standard round feeder, but there was no effect of enrichment. Fecal swabs indicated that over 50% of animals with access to a tray feeder were eaters prior to weaning.

The provision of a large tray feeder that encourages social feeding, appears to have a greater influence than rope enrichment on attracting piglets to creep feed. While the increased creep disappearance found with the tray feeder indicates that more piglets were interacting with the creep, no benefits to growth rate were found.


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