Sows housed under conditions of food and physical restriction often perform behaviours indicative of poor welfare (e.g. repetitive chain chewing), one cause of which may be the inability of sows to express foraging behaviour under confined conditions. The objective of this experiment was to measure the effect on behaviour of providing six gilts with a foraging device (The 'Edinburgh Foodball' British Patent No. 9200499.3) which was designed to deliver small food rewards, relatively randomly in space, time and quantity, in response to being rooted. The following treatments were sequentially applied: Baseline (B) (2.0 kg of standard sow diet given on the floor and no Foodball), Foodball (Fb) (2.0 kg floor fed; Foodball containing 5.0 kg), Extinction (E) (2.0 kg floor fed; Foodball without food) and Food (Fd) (2.0 kg floor fed; plus matched amount of food during Fb tests). Testing began at 08:30 h when gilts were floor fed, videoing continued between 09:00 and 17:00 h. On the Fb treatment gilts obtained a mean of 2608 g (s.e.m. 257) food in a mean of 112.8 min (s.e.m. 15.8), indicating that gilts fed a commercial size ration were still highly food motivated. The results showed that foraging activities were not significantly different for treatments B, Fb and E, but were significantly lower on Fd. This shows that it is not food level per se that determines foraging activity, but also the method of food presentation. On the Fb treatment pigs walked for more observations than on other treatments. Also on the Fb treatment straw directed behaviour appeared to be replaced by Foodball directed behaviour. The 'Edinburgh Foodball' appears to be a useful device in allowing gilts to express foraging behaviour.
- Behavioural enrichment