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Effects of straw bedding and high fibre diets on the behaviour of floor fed group-housed sows

By X. Whittaker, S. A. Edwards, H. A. M. Spoolder, A. B. Lawrence, S. Corning

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Twenty groups of 7 multiparous Landrace x Large White sows were used in a 2 x 2 factorial design to investigate the effects on behaviour of floor feeding sows the same daily weight of isoenergetic conventional (C) or high fibre (H containing 600 g of unmolassed sugar beet pulp/kg diet) pregnancy diets in strawed (S) or un-strawed (N) pens. Observations were conducted from the start of feeding for 2 h (09.00-11.00 h) and for 2 h in the afternoon (13.00-15.00 h). Sows on S treatments received more aggressive interactions (P<0.01) and were displaced from the feeding area more frequently (P<0.001) than sows on N treatments. S sows also spent more time standing during the feeding period (P<0.001) than N sows, which appeared to account for the difference in the level of aggression observed. No improvement was found, in overall levels of aggression, in feeding sows the H diet, although damage to the vulva was lower in H- (P<0.05) than C-fed sows. The presence of straw in the pen reduced the level of pen component manipulation and non-manipulative oral behaviours, during both observation periods. H-fed sows spent less time manipulating substrates during the afternoon observation period (P<0.05) than C-fed sows, due to an increase in the time spent inactive (P<0.05). While feeding sows in un-strawed pens may limit aggression in competitive feeding systems, providing sows with access to straw may reduce excessive levels of pen-directed behaviours. Feeding sows on diets which are high in dietary fibre may reduce behaviours associated with a lack of satisfaction of feeding motivation, suggesting that there may be welfare benefits associated with feeding sows high-fibre diets, although not necessarily in competitive feeding systems.

Date 1999
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 63
Issue 1
Pages 25-39
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/S0168-1591(98)00243-3
Language English
Author Address Animal Biology Division, SAC, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG, UK.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Animal rights
  5. Animal welfare
  6. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  7. Feeding
  8. Feeds
  9. Fiber
  10. Housing
  11. Litter
  12. Mammals
  13. Management
  14. molasses
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. pens
  17. piggeries
  18. pig housing
  19. Pigs
  20. Social behavior
  21. sows
  22. sties
  23. Straw
  24. Swine
  25. vegetables
  1. peer-reviewed