Stimulating Exploratory Behaviour – Effect on Creep Consumption
This study investigated whether feed consumption before and after weaning 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 feed in a large tray feeder (TF) so as to facilitate synchronized feeding among littermates.
Enrichment consisted of cotton ropes hung in the farrowing pen. Piglets provided with E were observed to contact the enrichment on average 11 times per day. Feeder type, but not E, resulted in a greater frequency of piglet visits to the feeder on day 12 with more piglets the TF. On day 26 there was a tendency for a greater frequency of visits to the TF. Litters supplied with a TF also had a greater daily creep disappearance with no effect of E. However, litters provided with the Standard Feeder (SF) had a greater piglet birth to wean average daily gain. Provision of a larger feeder that encourages social feeding, appears to have a greater influence on attracting piglets to creep feed. The increased creep disappearance and more frequent feeder visits in the TF treatment indicate that this treatment may be effective at improving feed consumption and reduce weaning stress.