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Domestication effects on foraging strategies in pigs ( Sus scrofa )

By M. Gustafsson, P. Jensen, F. H. de Jonge, T. Schuurman

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Abstract

Eight domestic pigs and 8 crossbred pigs (Holland Landrace x wild boar) were allowed to forage alone in a maze for 30 min on 4 successive days. The maze contained 6 gradually depleting food patches and corridors between them. Pigs obtained the food by manipulating the bucket with the snouts. On every second test the cost of moving between patches was increased by inserting 36.5-38.5 cm high wooden barriers between each food patch. Both breeds adapted their foraging pattern to the depletion of the patches and spent shorter time in each patch on successive visits. Domestic pigs spent longer average time in each patch. Both breeds spent longer time in patches when the maze contained barriers. The feed consumption was reduced in both breeds when barriers were introduced. The domestic pigs passed totally a lower number of barriers compared with the crossbred pigs. Both domesticated and crossbred pigs visited fewer patches in the maze with barriers compared with the maze without. Weight of the pigs was not a major factor affecting the results. It is concluded that both crossbred pigs and domestic pigs in general responded as expected from optimal foraging theory. Hence, domestic pigs still have the ability to adapt foraging behaviour in an adaptive fashion to the prevailing conditions. Crossbred pigs seemed to use a more costly foraging strategy than domestic pigs.

Date 1999
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 62
Issue 4
Pages 305-317
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(98)00236-6
Language English
Author Address Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Animal Environment and Health, Section of Ethology, POB 234, 532 23 Skara, Sweden.
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Tags
  1. Adaptation
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  4. Breeds
  5. Feeding behavior
  6. Genetics
  7. Mammals
  8. peer-reviewed
  9. Pigs
  10. Swine
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  1. peer-reviewed