Thermoregulation of the Nursery by Early Weaned Piglets Through Operant Conditioning
Growing swine health and productivity is affected by thermal environment, especially in newly weaned piglets as they require warmer temperatures. Pigs were taught how to respond to heat rewards through operant conditioning and control their thermal environment so they can select the optimal temperature. As age increased, the early weaned piglets average preferred temperature decreased by 1°C per week. For days 3-5, 10-12 and 17-19 their preferred temperatures were 26.33°C, 25.71°C and 25.24°C respectively. The preferences consistently ranged between 22-29°C each week post-weaning. The piglets also preferred the highest temperatures in the day and lowest during the night reflecting their circadian sinusoidal pattern. Overall, temperature settings should be based on age and size of the animal and also the time of day.