Drinker to Nursery Pig Ratio: Preference for a Drinker Location
within a Pen and its Effects on Aggression
Is Version Of
The objectives of this study were to (1) calculate aggressive interactions around the water bowl drinkers and to (2) determine preference for a water bowl location when pigs were offered either one, two or three water bowl drinkers per pen. Information is available on the current drinker to nursery pig’s ratios (drinker: pigs). In the UK producers are recommended 1:15, while in the US it is 1:10 for nursery pigs. A total of 225 crossbred were seven weeks of age. Conventional nursery pens had plastic flooring and all pigs had ad-libitum access to a commercially formulated diet. Water was delivered through a single stainless steel water bowl drinker and was provided ad libitum. All pigs received a natural light cycle from a curtain sided building. Nine pens were used for behavioral measures. Three treatments were compared. Treatment one (TRT 1; n = 3) was defined as one water bowl drinker per pen. Treatment two (TRT 2; n = 3) was defined as two water bowl drinkers per pen. Treatment three (TRT 3; n = 3) was defined as three water bowl drinkers per pen. One day prior to visual recording of drinking behavior, all pigs in a pen were identified with an individual number. One 12 V black and white CCTV camera was positioned over each water bowl drinker and behavior was recorded from 0700 to 1300 h over two consecutive days onto a DVR at 1 frame per second. The acquisition of drinking behavior (defined as the pig having its head in the water bowl drinker for 5 s or longer) was obtained by three experienced observers who viewed the recordings using 24 h mode (5 frame / s) onto the Observer software. Total number of aggressive interactions and length of aggression around the water bowl drinker over the 6 h period was not (P < 0.05) different between the treatments. The total amount of time that nursery pigs spent when offered two (F vs. O) water bowl drinkers in a pen did not (P = 0.47) differ. However, when pigs were offered three (F vs. O vs. A) water bowl drinkers in a pen there was a difference (P < 0.0001) for total amount of time spent at all three locations. In conclusion, pigs displayed a water bowl drinker preference with the alley location being the least favored; however, there were no difference in the number or length of aggressive interactions.