Submitted to: American Association of Swine Veterinarians Annual Meeting
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/28/2014
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: Pigs are social animals. From an evolutionary perspective, being social conveys a number of benefits, but potentially some disadvantages, especially for certain individuals within the group. For example, living in a social group can improve successful foraging in a natural setting, but competition within the group can reduce access to resources for some individuals, and in even in a controlled indoor setting, this can include access to food. In order to better understand the consequences of the feeding systems which are used in commercial production, it is crucial to acknowledge the pig’s origins and feeding and social behavior in a natural setting. The way we feed pigs, and what we feed them, can have a direct effect on their behavior and on the amount of aggression seen within any given system. The majority of research effort has been directed towards systems-type research – i.e. the way we feed them – rather than the potential effects of ingredients found within the diet. Where the feeding system encourages competition to access food, aggression will be relatively high. As the evidence of dietary ingredients affecting behavior increases, it opens up the possibility of designing diets as a behavioral management tool, with the hope that welfare and productivity can be improved hand-in-hand.