The teat-seeking behaviour of newborn piglets was evaluated in farrowing crates modified to incorporate sloped floors and curved corners in a 2 x 2 factorial arrangement. Rear corners of the creep area were square or curved and floors were level or sloped. Floor slopes were designed to move pigs away from the sow's posterior and around the perimeter of the creep area to her side. Treatment did not affect performance to 3 days old. Intralitter birth intervals were greater in sloped (32 min) than flat crates (22 min; P<0.05) and sows changed position more frequently in sloped crates (P<0.05). Latency to first mammary contact (LMC) was greater on sloped floors (50 vs. 32 min on flat floors; P<0.01). Prior to mammary contact, pigs on sloped floors spent more time free standing (P<0.001), in contact with creep partitions (P<0.001) and in the rear crate corners (P<0.01), and less time in contact with the sow (P<0.001) and near the sow's vulval area (P<0.01) than those on flat floors. Slopes increased the distance searched by pigs during LMC (58 vs. 30 m on flat floors; P<0.01) and increased the speed of movement (2.2 vs. 1.8 m/min on flat floors; P<0.12). Results indicate that sloped floors did not decrease the teat-seeking time of newborn pigs, but were effective in directing piglet movement and increasing the speed of movement.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.|
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