Stimulating Exploratory Behaviour in Piglets: Effects on Pre-Weaning Creep Consumption
The abrupt change from a liquid to solid diet causes stress at weaning, along with a new environment and a different grouping of pigs. This often reduces intake for a few days and increases risk of mortality and disease susceptibility. The goal of using creep feed is to help with the transition of food and prevent weight loss. Less than half of the piglets in a litter actually consume the creep. There is little opportunity for sow-piglet interaction and exploration in intensive barns, but if piglets could be stimulated to explore, they may have more interest in creep feed. In this experiment a large tray feeder was more effective at attracting piglets to the creep feed compared to a standard feeder or a rope enrichment, possibly as it provided foraging and rooting behaviour as a group. Piglet growth was enhanced after weaning. If it is the foraging behaviour that is beneficial, expensive creep feed may not be necessary as it will most likely be wasted.