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    ABSTRACT: Creep feeding can improve growth and performance of piglets before and after weaning, especially if sow milk supply is reduced for any reason, but intake by suckling piglets is often low. It was hypothesised that the sequential presentation of different flavoured creeps each day would stimulate exploratory behaviour and improve feed intake and weight gain during lactation, with subsequent post-weaning benefits. This study aimed at investigating the effect of increasing creep flavour diversity in two lactation housing systems. 36 sows (Large White x Landrace) were used in a 2 × 2 factorial design; sows were randomly allocated to either a farrowing crate or a loose farrowing PigSAFE pen at five days before farrowing, while the litters were further allocated to either a standard or diverse flavour creep feeding regime on day 10 of lactation. Housing system had no main or interactive effect on the feed intake and weight gain of piglets in the lactation and post-weaning periods. Feeding 5 different flavoured creeps (Toffee, Apricot, Butterscotch, Apple and Red fruit) in a daily sequential order increased the hourly frequency of visits to the creep feeder on day 18 of life (P = 0.004), and increased the piglets’ feed intake over days 15-22 of lactation (P = 0.01), and day 22 to weaning at 28d (P = 0.03). When controlling for day of presentation, butterscotch flavoured creep promoted a higher intake than red fruit creep (P = 0.004), with other flavours intermediate. The prior experience of flavour diversity significantly increased weight gain in the first 2 weeks after weaning on a standardised feeding regime for both treatments (P = 0.03). Results suggest that dietary novelty may be a method to stimulate early exploratory behaviour, feed intake and performance.
    Full-text · Article · May 2014 · Animal Feed Science and Technology
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    ABSTRACT: Current developments in the pig industry pose increased challenges for piglet survival as a result of selection for increased prolificacy and welfare pressures to abolish the use of farrowing crates. The effect of supplementation of the maternal diet with algal biomass, containing the essential fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), on the performance of sows and their piglets farrowing in two different housing conditions was studied using a 3×2 factorial experiment. A control diet was compared to 2 levels of DHA supplementation from algal biomass (0.03 and 0.3 % DHA, delivered by 1.5 g/kg and 15 g/kg algal biomass) during the last 4 weeks of pregnancy and lactation, using 60 sows (mean parity 4.7 sem 0.32) in two different farrowing systems (farrowing crate and PigSAFE farrowing pen). Two-way analyses of variance showed no statistically significant interactions between dietary treatment and housing system. Piglet survival and growth did not differ between the crate and pen systems. Litter size (13.1 sem 0.42) and piglet birthweight (1.45 sem 0.047 kg) did not differ between dietary treatments, but the number of stillborn piglets per litter was reduced with increasing DHA supplementation (1.13, 0.67, 0.25, sem 0.205, P= 0.014, with litter size covariate). This was despite an increase in farrowing duration of the sows with increased DHA supplementation (150.3, 195.2 and 216.2 sem 13.6 min, P= 0.02). The vitality of the piglets, as described by the latency (min) of the piglets to stand (1.92, 1.44 and 1.17, sem 0.09, P<0.001), to reach the teat (21.55, 15.71 and 11.20, sem 1.35, P<0.001) and to suckle (25.66, 19.14 and 14.83, sem 1.40, P< 0.001), was also improved with increased supplementation of DHA. Mortality of liveborn piglets in the first 3 days, and number weaned per litter (after fostering) were unaffected by treatment, as were sow weight and backfat loss in lactation. However, piglet weaning weight was reduced by DHA supplementation (by up to 12 %). The mechanism for the reduction in stillbirth should be further investigated.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2014 · Livestock Science
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    ABSTRACT: Biomechanical investigation into locomotor pathology in commercial pigs is lacking despite this being a major concern for the industry. Different floor types are used in modern, intensive pig production systems at different stages of the pigs' production cycle. The general perception holds that slatted and/or hard solid concrete surfaces are inferior to soft straw-covered floors regarding healthy musculoskeletal development. Previous studies have compared pigs housed on different floor types using clinical, subjective assessment of leg weakness and lameness. However, reliability studies generally report a low repeatability of clinical lameness scoring. The objective of this study was to quantitatively assess the long-term effect of pen floors, reflected in the biomechanical gait characteristics and associated welfare of the pigs. A cohort of 24 pigs housed on one of three different floor types was followed from 37 to 90 kg average liveweight, with gait analysis (motion capture) starting at 63 kg. The three floor types were fully slatted concrete, partly slatted concrete and deep straw-bedded surfaces, all located within the same building. Pigs underwent five repeated camera-based motion captures, 7 to 10 days apart, during which 3D coordinate data of reflective skin markers attached to leg anatomical landmarks were collected. Pigs walked on the same solid concrete walkway during captures. One-way ANOVA and repeated measures ANOVA were used to analyse the gait data. Results revealed changes over time in the spatiotemporal gait pattern which were similar in magnitude and direction for the pigs from different floor types. Significant increases in elbow joint flexion with age were observed in all pigs (P⩽0.050; +6°). There were few differences between floor groups, except for the step-to-stride ratio in the hind legs being more irregular in pigs housed on partly slatted floors (P=0.012; 3.6 times higher s.d.) compared with those on 5 to 10 cm straw-bedding in all pen areas. As the level of clinical problems was generally low in this cohort, it may be that floors elicit problems only when there is a primary predisposing factor increasing weakness in susceptible tissues.
    No preview · Article · Dec 2013 · animal
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