Effects of creep food presentation on feeding behaviour and intake were studied with eight litters of eight to 10 Yorkshire × Landrace piglets in the 3rd and 4th weeks after birth, before weaning at 4 weeks of age. In each week, four treatments were applied, each for 24 h: a single two-space feeder unchanged from the previous day; a clean feeder with fresh food supplied at 09.00 h; a clean feeder with fresh food supplied at three times during the day; and three feeders (six feeding spaces) providing increased access to food throughout the day. There were no significant differences between the first three treatments in time spent at the feeder (recorded by video over 24 h) or food intake of piglets. However, the fourth treatment increased average intake in week 3 to 2·1 times the average of the other treatments, and in week four to 1·4 times. In week 3, most piglets spent more time at the feeder when access was increased, while in week 4 the effect was restricted to piglets which ate very little. This suggested that imitative learning was important in the initiation of feeding. Analysis of both litter means and within-Utter variation showed that piglets which ate more solid food before weaning gained more weight in the 2 weeks after weaning. However, this correlation was confounded by correlations of both measures with birth weight and other variables. Causal links between creep feeding and post-weaning weight gain remain to be demonstrated.
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