Effects of Nutritional Enrichment on Pig Feeder Aggression and Performance During Early Weaning

  • Grace Mercer (Iowa State University)
  • Emiline Sundman (Iowa State University)
  • Cassandra Stambuk orcid logo (Iowa State University)
  • Nicholas K. Gabler (Iowa State University)
  • Kenneth J Stalder (Iowa State University)
  • Anna K. Johnson (Iowa State University)
  • Locke A. Karriker (Iowa State University)
  • Suzanne T. Millman (Iowa State University)


The objective of this experiment was to evaluate the effect of a novel nutritional “biscuit” on weaned pig feeder aggression and performance. Eighty mixed-sex pigs, 19 to 24 days of age, were randomly allocated to 8 pens (10 pigs/pen). Pens were assigned 1 of 4 treatments: (1) biscuit with fecal semiochemical attractant, (2) biscuit with sugary attractant, (3) biscuit with no attractant (positive control), and (4) no biscuit (negative control). Each pen received 4 biscuits suspended from 2 ropes at the feeder for the first 7 days after weaning. Pig aggressive behavior at the feeder was recorded. Descriptive data including frequency (number) and duration (seconds) of aggressive interactions, average daily gain, average daily feed intake, and fecal score were evaluated. The negative control treatment had less feeder aggression than the enrichment treatments. On average, duration of aggression events around the feeder between all treatments was 1 second with the range from < 1 second to 21 seconds. During the first 4 days, the pens of pigs receiving the positive control treatment consumed the most feed when compared to other treatments. Overall, providing pigs the biscuit enrichment at the feeder did not result in increased pig removal due to aggressive interactions. Additionally, pens of pigs that were provided a biscuit enrichment with no attractant had the most promising early daily feed intake. At a time where consumers are asking questions concerning the pig’s quality of life and enriching their living environment, providing biscuit in the feeders within each pen of pigs may be a way to provide pigs an enhanced living environment. 

Keywords: swine, behavior, environmental enrichment, nursery

How to Cite:

Mercer, G., Sundman, E., Stambuk, C., Gabler, N. K., Stalder, K. J., Johnson, A. K., Karriker, L. A. & Millman, S. T., (2022) “Effects of Nutritional Enrichment on Pig Feeder Aggression and Performance During Early Weaning”, Iowa State University Animal Industry Report 19(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.31274/air.13898

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Published on
18 Sep 2022
Peer Reviewed