The importance of cleat spacing in ramp design for young pigs

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Four ramp designs were tested for acceptance by pigs aged 7–8 wk and weighing about 16 kg. The designs included one ramp with a 22° slope and cleats spaced 100 mm apart, and three ramps with slopes of 28° and cleat spacing of either 100, 75 or 50 mm. Forty-eight litters were used in the study, each providing four pairs of pigs. Each of the four pairs was exposed to a different ramp design for 1 h, with ramp acceptance determined by whether a pig tried the ramp or not. Acceptance was much higher for the 22° ramp than the 28° ramp when the cleats were spaced at 100-mm (0.56 vs. 0.36, respectively; P < 0.01). However, there was a strong linear trend towards greater acceptance of the 28° ramp as cleat spacing was reduced (P < 0.001), so much so that acceptance of 50-mm spacing tended to surpass that of the 22° ramp with 100-mm spacing (0.70 vs. 0.56, respectively; P < 0.07). The results show that narrowly spaced cleats can compensate for steepness of slope in ramp designs for young pigs.