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.
|Publication Title||Applied Animal Behaviour Science|
|Author Address||Animal Biology Division, SAC, West Mains Road, Edinburgh, EH9 3JG, UK.|
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