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Title: The effects of social organisation on feeding behaviour in growing pigs
Author: Bornett, Hannah
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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Group housed pigs make less frequent feeder visits of a longer duration, and eat at faster rate than pigs housed individually. They also have lower growth rates which may be due to elevated stress associated with aggression and social stress. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the stability of feeding patterns in individual pigs, the effect of grouping and group composition on feeding patterns and to assess the consequences of this shift in feeding behaviour for the welfare and performance of grouped pigs. The flexibility of feeding behaviour was assessed by restricting the time of access to food of previously ad libitum fed pigs to 2 hours per day and then returning them to 24 hr access. When pigs had restricted access to food they made fewer daily feeder visits, of a longer duration, with a higher food intake per visit than the control pigs that had 24 hour access to food throughout. Flexibility was assessed by comparing feeding behaviour before and after restriction. The pigs that experienced a period of restricted feeding either resumed their previous behaviour or showed the same trend as the controls. It was concluded that feeding behaviour was flexible. A second experiment investigated the effect of grouping on feeding behaviour. Pigs were housed individually for 3 weeks after which they were combined into groups of 4 for 3 weeks, before being returned to individual housing for a further 3 weeks. When grouped, pigs made fewer visits to the feeder of a longer duration than when they were housed individually. Possible explanations for the changes in feeding behaviour are competition, group cohesion, or that the high frequency of feeder visits when the pigs are housed individually is a consequence of a lack of social stimulation. The results suggest that group cohesion is most likely to have been causal in the observed changes in feeding behaviour.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available