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The influence of neonatal environment on piglet play behaviour and post-weaning social and cognitive development

By J. E. Martin, S. H. Ison, E. M. Baxter

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Abstract

Research has shown that the domestic pig is highly playful throughout its development and that play is an important aspect of social and cognitive development. Therefore, the neonatal environment is fundamental to successful stimulation of play in neonatal pigs, which could have indirect and direct socio-cognitive effects on pigs post-weaning and therefore influence social interactions known to cause welfare concerns (e.g. aggression during mixing). This study investigated how play pre- and post-weaning developed in two neonatal environments (NE); the conventional farrowing crate (NEC) and a more environmentally complex alternative PigSAFE pen (NEP) and to discover whether this had an effect on piglet' cognitive abilities in spontaneous object recognition tests for two retention times (15 and 60 min) post-weaning. Hourly focal sampling was used to record play behaviours pre- and post-weaning in 72 piglets of mixed sex (36 per NE) from a total population of 117 piglets from 12 litters. Out of the 72 piglets, 24 were used in the cognitive spontaneous object recognition tests five weeks post-weaning. Linear mixed models showed that NEP piglets displayed play behaviours quicker after birth than NEC piglets: locomotor ( F=7.62 (1, 11), P=0.020); sow interaction ( F=5.27 (1, 11), P=0.045); and social interaction ( F=23.61 (1, 11), P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 163
Pages 69-79
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Publisher Elsevier
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.11.022
Language English
Author Address Animal Behaviour and Welfare, Animal and Veterinary Sciences Research Group, SRUC, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JG, UK.Jessica.Martin@sruc.ac.uk
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Tags
  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal housing
  4. Animal nutrition
  5. Animal reproduction
  6. Animals
  7. Cognition
  8. Education
  9. Effect
  10. Enrichment
  11. Extension
  12. Farrowing
  13. Interactions
  14. Lesions
  15. Litters
  16. Livestock
  17. Mammals
  18. Meat animals
  19. models
  20. newborn animals
  21. Parasites
  22. peer-reviewed
  23. Pigs
  24. retention
  25. stimulation
  26. Suiformes
  27. training
  28. ungulates
  29. vertebrates
  30. weaning
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed