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Individual variation in feeding and growth of piglets: effects of increased access to creep food

  • M. C. Appleby (a1), E. A. Pajor (a2) (a3) and D. Fraser (a2)


Consumption of solid food before weaning and growth before and after weaning were studied in 24 litters of eight to 13 Yorkshire × Landrace piglets per litter. From day 21 until weaning at day 28,12 litters were provided with a single two-space feeder, while the other 12 litters were provided with four similar feeders. Daily food intake by each litter was recorded throughout this period and feeding behaviour of individual piglets was filmed during the final 24 h. On the one-feeder treatment there were 4·1 (s.e. 0·6) piglets per litter which fed very little on the day before weaning (< 0·005 of sample video frames). These tended to have high birth weights and high growth rates on days 0 to 21, but low growth rates on days 28 to 42. Conversely, piglets which fed most on creep food were often those which had gained least on days 0 to 21. The four-feeder treatment increased average intake in the last 3 days before weaning and reduced the number of piglets which fed very little in the final 24 h to 0·6 (s.e. 0·3) per litter. However, neither average growth after weaning nor the occurrence of poorly performing individuals was different between treatments. Furthermore, regression analysis of factors related to weight gain from days 28 to 42 showed that feeding behaviour proportionately accounted for 0·02 only of within-litter variation and food intake on days 21 to 28 did not contribute significantly to between-Utter variation. These results suggest that low consumption of solid food before weaning is a predictor of poor growth after weaning, but not a cause.



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Animal Science
  • ISSN: 1357-7298
  • EISSN: 1748-748X
  • URL: /core/journals/animal-science
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