Behavioral indicators of slow growth in nursery pigs

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Abstract

The objective of this study was to determine how feeder-space allowance affects behaviors of slow- and fast-growing pigs during the nursery period. Nursery pigs (n = 192; initial weight = 7.4 ± 1.6 kg) were housed in 24 pens of 8 pigs, with 12 pens provided with either a two-space feeder or a five-space feeder. Pigs were categorized as slow growers (SG) and fast growers (FG) based on adjusted market weight (SG < 105 kg; FG ≥ 105 kg). Behaviors of pigs were video-recorded during the first four days after entering the nursery and on Day 21. Eating speed was measured on 96 focal pigs when they were nine weeks old. SG spent more time at the drinker than did FG (p < .05). SG spent less time in the standing/walking posture (p < .05) in pens with five-space feeders compared with SG in pens with two-space feeders. These results suggest that providing more feeder space may benefit SG in terms of improving the welfare of these pigs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-399
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume21
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2 2018

Keywords

  • Behavior
  • eating rate
  • feeder space
  • pigs
  • slow growth

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