Behaviour of Pigs in Large Group Auto-Sort

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Large group auto-sort systems pose some significant challenges to pigs n terms of eating behaviour. The feeders are a ll located in a food court which can only be accessed through a single sorter scale. The cost of moving to the feeders is greater than in a small pen, where pigs may only have to move a metre or so to find feed. Despite these restrictions, pigs pass through the sorter and eat in a typical diurnal pattern similar to that seen in small pens. However, pigs in large group auto-sort pens only enter the food court 2-4 times each day, and have fewer meals (5 vs 10-15) than in small pens. They compensate by eating longer during each meal. They also move freely about the food court, eating from several feeder spaces every day. Young pigs, who require more time to eat, may display a higher mid-day rate of eating indicative of restricted feeder space. We believe a key to making food courts work s to make sure the pigs know that food s present by introducing them to the food court rather than the loafing area. The food court should be spacious so that pigs have access to a of the feeders, and a feeder space shou d be prov ded for every 10-12 p gs

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