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ARS Home » Midwest Area » West Lafayette, Indiana » Livestock Behavior Research » Research » Research Project #424266

Research Project: Designer Diets Decrease Aggression and Increase Welfare

Location: Livestock Behavior Research

Project Number: 5020-32000-011-04-R
Project Type: Reimbursable Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Dec 1, 2012
End Date: Dec 1, 2015

If successful, this series of research projects will provide a method of feeding sows which will decrease their level of hunger, even though they are limit fed. This will result in less fighting and competition, thus it will address the largest problem the industry faces when group housing sows, unsettled aggression and poor welfare as its result. The final stage of this project will test the experimental diet on a large farm, thus by the completion of this study producers will know if it could be implemented in their operations.

Three different experiments will be conducted for this project. The first is designed to identify diet modifications which are most effective in increasing satiety when sows are grouped. The second then follows by combining together diet modifications that worked best in Experiment 1 to see if additive effect applies. Third is designed to determine if our results can be translated into reality on a real farm with larger size groupings of sows. Experiment 1 - evaluate 4 different diets, place sows on experimental diets by day 7 after they are bred. Maintain on these diets for 21 days, move from breeding stalls to group housing (28 days pregnant). Video record behavior. Experiment 2 - Conduct experiment as was done in Ex. 1. Evaluate results from Ex. 1 to create two novel diets that combine the modification that worked best. Experiment 3 - Determine of progress made on a small scale with only 5 pigs per pen translates to the real world situation when sows are actually housed in much larger groups.