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The influence of drinker location and colour on drinking behaviour and water intake of newborn pigs under hot environments

By S. G. Deligeorgis, K. Karalis, G. Kanzouros

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The effect of drinker location within the farrowing crate in relation to its microenvironment and the effect of dispenser colour on drinking behaviour and water intake of newborn pigs for the first two days of their lives were studied. In the first trial, 16 sows were randomly assigned to four treatment groups with the piglet's water dispenser placed in the front right (FR), front left (FL), back right (BR) or back left (BL) corner of the farrowing pen, respectively. In the second trial nine sows were randomly assigned to three treatment groups with the piglets' water dispenser, placed in the front left corner of the farrowing pen, and coloured as red (CR), green (CG) or blue (CB), respectively. Trials commenced between 08:00 and 10:00 h on the first morning after the litters were born and the piglets' age was considered to be zero ("age") by that time. The average age of the piglets at their first visit to water dispensers was 15.9+or-1.8 h. The newborn pigs visited the drinker more frequently (P<0.001) during daytime than during night, with two peaks soon after sow feeding time. The duration of drinking time was long at the time of higher (noon) and shorter at the time of lowest (early morning) temperatures (P<0.01) in the farrowing house, respectively. The greatest attention at the drinkers occurred soon after suckling (P<0.001). The longest time spends at the drinker during the first visits and decreased as the pigs visited dispensers repeatedly. The profile of visit frequency and duration differed between piglet sexes (P<0.001). The pigs that did not visit the drinker grew slower and were lighter at 48 h of age than the pigs visited the drinker. First visit and overall mean visit age were significantly shorter for BL than for FR and BR groups. Piglets visited the FL drinker for shorter time than the others. Water consumption per pig/24 h was lower for FL and higher for BL groups (P<0.05). Water consumption was higher for CR and CB groups than for CG group. The overall mean visit age was shorter for CG than for CB group. Significant interactions were observed between sex and colour groups for the number of visits (P<0.05). The results of the present study revealed that water dispenser use by newborn piglets is characterised by diurnal and between two successive milk consumptions distributions. Water consumption by piglets from birth to 48 h of their lives is strongly influenced by water dispenser location in the farrowing pen and the dispenser colour. It also appears that males and females behave differently to the three colour dispensers used in this study.

Date 2006
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 96
Issue 3/4
Pages 233-244
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Breeding and Husbandry, Faculty of Animal Science, Agricultural University of Athens, Iera Odos 75, Athens 118 55, Greece.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal housing
  3. Color
  4. Drinking
  5. Mammals
  6. peer-reviewed
  7. sex differences
  8. Swine
  9. water
  1. peer-reviewed