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Measuring motivation in swine: the food-metric scale

By E. G. Patterson-Kane, R. D. Kirkden, E. A. Pajor

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Understanding how nonhuman animals such as swine respond to their environment and understanding how to provide them with a good quality of life involves using a range of experimental approaches. More and more, ethological researchers are turning to operant methods to answer some of these questions. Employing an operant such as a lever, researchers can assess how hard animals will work to get access to environmental resources: increased space or social contact. It is difficult, however, to determine how the effort made by the animals relates to the degree to which they need the resource and, in particular, how to interpret intermediate levels of responding. One approach to understanding the level of need is to compare it with familiar states of deprivation such as hunger. Food is an environmental resource known to range from low to high value depending on deprivation level. Depriving animals of a fixed proportion of their daily ad libitum intake allows the animals to demonstrate the levels of responding produced at satiation: 23 hr deprivation and a range of intermediate points. The resulting scale has both empirical and intuitive value and can help in understanding the value of various degrees of operant effort. Ultimately, this information will help in deciding which environmental conditions should be provided to swine as part of routine husbandry.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 14
Issue 3
Pages 175-186
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2011.575739
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Deprivation
  6. Environment
  7. Humans
  8. Hunger
  9. Husbandry
  10. Mammals
  11. Meat animals
  12. Men
  13. peer-reviewed
  14. Pigs
  15. Primates
  16. Quality of life
  17. researchers
  18. research personnel
  19. Suiformes
  20. Swine
  21. ungulates
  22. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed