Drinking behavior in nursery aged pigs

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Jackson, Ciara
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Anna K. Johnson
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Animal Science

The Department of Animal Science originally concerned itself with teaching the selection, breeding, feeding and care of livestock. Today it continues this study of the symbiotic relationship between animals and humans, with practical focuses on agribusiness, science, and animal management.

The Department of Animal Husbandry was established in 1898. The name of the department was changed to the Department of Animal Science in 1962. The Department of Poultry Science was merged into the department in 1971.

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Detailed information on the pigs' temporal drinking patterns is essential when delivering water based health products because there is a risk that not all pigs will visit the drinker adequately and hence, may not have received sufficient vaccine or antibiotics required to protect the animal. Limited research has evaluated drinking visits and water disappearance in nursery pigs. Recent work has begun to investigate the pig to water resource ratio and the placement and type of water delivery systems.;This thesis covers the areas of: (1) drinking behavior of seven week old pigs when water is either withheld for a period of 15 h or provided ad libitum and (2) drinking behavior, aggressive interactions, water bowl preference, and performance measures between seven week old nursery pigs when provided a 1:25, 1:12, or 1:8 drinker to pig ratio.;In the first study a total of 194 seven week old PIC (USA) pigs, weighing 22.98 +/- 5.38 kg were housed in single sex pens in a commercial nursery facility. Two treatments were compared; treatment one; withheld (WH; n = 4) pigs did not have access to water for 15 h and treatment two, control (CONT; n = 4) pigs had continuous ad libitum access to water. Drinking behavior was recorded from 0700 to 1300 h over two consecutive days. The acquisition of drinking behavior (defined as the pig having its head in the nipple-cup drinker for 5 s or longer) was obtained. Total number of visits, visit lengths and water disappearance were analyzed.;This study found that manipulating water access for a period of 15 h affected the number and length of drinking visits to the nipple cup drinker over a 6 h period, with WH pigs spending longer at the water resource and visiting more often than their CONT counterparts. Upon breaking each hour down respectively the differences (P = 0.0001) were noted in the first hour (0700) after water was restored with the control group making fewer visits (1.96 vs. 4.46 +/- 0.26) and spending less time (18.08 +/- 4.04 vs. 64.44 +/- 4.02) at the nipple cup drinker when compared to the withholding group. After 60 min of water restoration there were no differences in the number of visits or length of time spent at the nipple cup drinker between treatments. In addition, water disappearance over the observational period was greater for pigs that had water withheld compared to pigs that were in the control treatment.;In the second study a total of 225 crossbred (21 +/- 4 d) gilts weighing 5.38 +/- 2.65 kg were used. Nine pens were used for behavioral and performance measures (average daily gain [ADG]), and 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 and treatment three (TRT 3; n = 3) was defined as three water bowl drinkers per pen. Drinking behavior, aggressive interactions and water bowl preference were recorded from 0700 to 1300 h over two consecutive days. The acquisition of drinking behavior (defined as the pig having its head in the water bowl drinker for 5 s or longer) was obtained. The total number of drinking visits and visit lengths, number of aggressive interactions and duration, water bowl preference, in regards to the length of time spent at each drinker, and performance measures were analyzed.;When offered more places to drink, pigs visited the water bowl drinker more often (P = 0.0209) which tended (P = 0.06) to increase ADG in nursery aged pigs. In addition, pigs displayed a water bowl drinker preference with the alley location being the least favored. Additional information on placement of key resources within a pen to enhance the drinking behavior for the pig is a useful tool for the swine industry and stakeholders when designing water delivery systems to enhance pig well-being and overall profitability.;Water functions, water quality, and water requirements are all essential to the well-being of the individual pig. It has been stated by numerous authors that water is the "forgotten nutrient." Yet, information regarding water requirements for all stages of pig production, the specifics to optimize water delivery to the pig, water resource location within the home pen and the ratios of pigs to the drinking resource are to date limited. This research provides new information on water management manipulation and water bowl placement within a nursery pen that may affect the drinking patterns of the individual pig.

Mon Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2007