Maternal presence and environmental enrichment affect food neophobia of piglets

M. Oostindjer, J. Mas Muñoz, H. van den Brand, B. Kemp, J.E. Bolhuis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Young omnivores show food neophobia in order to avoid the potential harmful effects of ingesting unfamiliar food items. We investigated whether the presence of the mother and an enriched rearing environment would reduce food neophobia in piglets. A mother may provide information on suitable food types to include in the diet, whereas an enriched environment may stimulate behavioural development and reduce reactivity towards novel stimuli (including food). Five barren-reared or enriched-reared piglets per litter were exposed to two novel food items in the presence, and the other five per litter in the absence, of the mother in a 7 min test. Maternal presence reduced food neophobia profoundly as reflected in a reduced latency to touching the food, a higher proportion of piglets sampling the two different food items and a higher intake. Latency to touch the food, however, was affected by maternal presence more strongly for barren-reared piglets than for enriched-reared piglets, and in the absence of the sow, consumption of one novel food type and time spent in the feeding area were higher for enriched-reared piglets
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-22
JournalBiology Letters
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Keywords

  • behavior
  • brain
  • learn

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