Increasing Creep Feed Intake by Stimulating Exploratory Behaviour using Enrichment
Multiple significant changes occur simultaneously during weaning making it a highly stressful time for piglets. Increased cortisol levels and weight loss are often noted after weaning, resulting in increased disease risk and mortality. Providing creep feed before weaning promotes solid feed intake and when consumed shows improved growth rate and better feed intake post-weaning. Many piglets fail to consume creep feed and when they do the consumption levels are often low. Increasing the consistency and volume of creep feed consumption may be done with different feeder types. Piglets raised outdoors quickly learn to consume starter feed and this is often related to exploratory behaviour. Providing environmental enrichment may increase exploratory behaviour, creep consumption, frequency of visits to the creep feeder and piglet growth rate. The rope enrichment and a large shallow tray feeder did not help increase creep consumption or growth rate. The larger tray feeder encouraged social feeding and rooting and had a larger influence than the rope enrichment when attracting them to feed. The large tray feeder group did not have a negative growth check post-weaning as well.