[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 23-Jun-2008
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Contact: Charlotte Webber
charlotte.webber@biomedcentral.com
44-020-763-19980
BioMed Central

Pigs prefer 3 square meals a day

Pigs raised in conventional indoor pens have different feeding patterns from those raised under more natural conditions. Research published today in BioMed Central's open access journal Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica shows that while pigs in the wild spend much time searching for food and eat little and often, the preferred feeding regime for conventional raised pigs is three meals a day.

Lead author, Eva Persson, from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences explains that, "The natural feeding behaviour of pigs is searching for feed by rooting activities throughout the day; self-feeding pigs randomly space their activities and generally consume between ten and twelve meals in an average day. By replicating this pattern in conventional indoor kept pigs, we had hoped they would fare better than those fed the traditional three meals."

All of the 360 pigs in the study received the same amount of food, spaced out into either three meals or nine and delivered as liquid feed. Contrary to what may be expected, feeding the pigs in a more 'natural' way did not result in a better outcome. In fact, the pigs fed three times gained over 100g more per day than the pigs fed more frequently.

As Persson reports, "Increased daily feeding occasions among group-housed pigs resulted in a poorer daily weight gain and an increased number of stomach problems. It will be of great interest to those in the farming and animal welfare fields that this study does not support increased daily feeding occasions in fattening pigs".

Each group of nine pigs in this study had to share one 3 m trough. Due to the fact that pigs will naturally fight for prime feeding positions, one likely explanation for the poorer performance in the pigs fed more often is increased competition within the group. The authors note 'More feeds mend smaller ratios each time and it is possible that each feeding occasion in our study did not offer enough feed to satisfy the hunger of all the pigs".

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Notes to Editors:

1. Increasing daily feeding occasions in restricted feeding strategies does not improve performance or well being of fattening pigs
Eva Persson, Margret Wulbers-Mindermann, Charlotte Berg and Bo Algers
Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica (in press)

During embargo, article available here:
http://www.actavetscand.com/imedia/1543356572146049_article.pdf?random=996519

After the embargo, article available at the journal website:
http://www.actavetscand.com/

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at press@biomedcentral.com on the day of publication.

2. Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica is an open access, peer-reviewed online journal that encompasses all aspects of veterinary research and medicine of domestic and wild animals.

It is the official journal of the Veterinary Associations of the Nordic Countries, and was founded in 1959 as a traditional print journal, but has taken the novel step of moving to an open access publishing model.

3. BioMed Central (http://www.biomedcentral.com/) is an independent online publishing house committed to providing immediate access without charge to the peer-reviewed biological and medical research it publishes. This commitment is based on the view that open access to research is essential to the rapid and efficient communication of science.



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