Feed intake characteristics of 192, 27-d-old weanling pigs housed in groups and given ad libitum access to feed and water were measured individually with the use of computerized feeding stations. The groups were either homogeneous or heterogeneous as to BW distribution; pigs of three defined initial BW classes were used (mean BW of 6.7, 7.9, or 9.3 kg). The effects of BW distribution, BW class, and sex were studied with regard to average performance traits, latency time (interval between weaning and first feed intake), initial feed intake (intake during the first 24 h following first feed intake), and daily increase in feed intake during the interval between first feed intake and the day on which energy intake met or exceeded 1.5 times the maintenance requirement. Homogeneous and heterogeneous groups had similar latency times, initial feed intakes, and daily increases in feed intake. For the period 0 to 34 d after weaning, ADFI and ADG were also similar for homogeneous and heterogeneous groups, but gain:feed ratio was greater (P < 0.05) in the homogeneous groups. Gilts had higher (P < 0.05) initial feed intakes than barrows and also had greater (P < 0.05) ADFI and ADG during the period 0 to 13 d after weaning. Pigs with average BW of 6.7 kg had higher (P < 0.05) initial feed intakes than their counterparts with average BW of 7.9 kg and 9.3 kg, but the daily increase in feed intake was similar for the three groups. The lighter pigs had more daily visits and a lower feed intake per visit and tended to have a shorter postweaning latency to the onset of feeding than the heavier pigs. This study indicates that the high variability in early feeding behavior among group-housed weanling pigs may be related to BW and sex.
|Journal||Journal of Animal Science|
|Publication status||Published - 2001|