Operant conditioning was used to measure the effect on the feeding motivation (hunger) of pigs of diluting nutrient restricted food allowances with straw. Twelve Large White × Landrace boars were maintained in individual pens where they received their daily food allowance. Prior to the experiment, the boars were conditioned in separate rooms to press a panel so as to receive small rewards of food. The effect of diluting meal with straw on panel pressing was investigated in two trials. In trial 1, the boars were allocated to the following treatments: high (H) (3·5 of maintenance (A/)), low (L) (1·5 M) and low/straw (LS) (1·5 M + 0·15 times the dry weight of meal as chopped straw). This dilution increased the food volume by proportionately 0·29. Operant response rates were measured in six 1-h tests in each of two periods at the start (days 3 to 10, period 1) and at the end (days 20 to 28, period 2) of the 28-day experiment. In trial 2, nine of the above boars were allocated to the following treatments: high (H) (3·0 A/), low (L) (1·5 M) and low/straw (LS) (1·5 M + 0·30 the dry weight of meal as ground straw). This dilution increased the food volume by proportionately 0·75. Operant response rates were measured as above between days 10 to 17, following a 9-day adjustment period to the new regimes.
In both trials, operant response rate was strongly affected by treatment. Overall in trial 1, animals on the H treatment made few responses (mean 60 responses per session), animals on the L treatment made significantly more responses (mean 825, P < 0·001) and animals on the LS teatment significantly more responses yet again (1263, P < 0·05). This last difference was associated with the difficulty of the LS animals consuming all of the diluted diet during period 1. In trial 2, response rates were again higher on the L than on the H treatments. There was, however, no difference between the L and LS treatments (means: 60 v. 1035 v. 1200). Proportionately only 0·04 of the diet was refused during the period of testing.
The present results show that short-term satiety arising from gut distension does not reduce the feeding motivation of animals on chronic nutrient restriction. This suggests that hunger will remain high i n pigs on restricted food allowances, even when they have access to high fibre foods. This hunger will be a potential source of stress, particularly in housing systems involving physical restraint such as tether stalls.