The effect of group housing on feeding patterns and social behaviour of previously individually housed growing pigs

HLI Bornett*, CA Morgan, AB Lawrence, J Mann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Group housed pigs make less frequent feeder visits of longer duration, and eat at a faster rate than pigs housed individually. They also have lower growth rates which may be due to elevated stress levels resulting from changes in the concentrations of hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline associated with aggression and social stress. The aim of this experiment was to investigate the effects of grouping on feeding pattern, time budgeting and the social behaviour of pigs kept as individuals from weaning until grouping. In total, 12 Large WhitexLandrace male pigs (four pigs per block) mean (+/-S.E.) start weight 22.5+/-0.7 kg were housed individually for 3 weeks (Period 1) after which in two replicates (Blocks 1 and 3), pigs were combined into a group of four (Period 2) before being returned to individual housing for a further 3 weeks (Period 3). In Block 2, the four pigs remained as individuals across periods but were moved between pens at the end of Periods 1 and 2 to account for any pen effects. Feeding pattern and food intake were recorded throughout and pigs were weighed three times a week. Video recordings and live behavioural observations were made to record time budgets and social behaviour. Grouped pigs made less visits to the feeder in Period 2 than when they were housed individually in Periods 1 (P

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-141
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume70
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000

Keywords

  • pig-feeding and nutrition
  • feeding behaviour
  • mixing
  • aggression
  • social organisation
  • FOOD-INTAKE
  • HIERARCHY
  • FEEDERS
  • SINGLE
  • GROWTH

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