The effects of straw on the behaviour of young growing pigs were studied in two experiments. In Experiment 1, group of three pigs, aged about 7 weeks, were housed in raised decks with or without straw bedding. Time-lapse video recording showed no major differences between treatments in the amount or daily pattern of overall activity and feeding. Detailed observations showed that bedding reduced the incidence of rooting and chewing on pen-mates, but had little effect on other social activities such as mounting and aggressive biting. Experiment 2 compared groups of eight growing pigs aged about 10 weeks, housed in floor pens with or without a small amount of straw provided daily in a rack. Pigs with straw concentrated more of their daily activity into the period when straw was fresh, but the total amount of overall activity and time spent feeding were not affected. Rooting and chewing of pen-mates were the only social activities reduced by the provision of fresh straw. In these studies, where straw was not required to compensate for deficiencies such as low temperatures or hunger, the one major function of straw was to provide a stimulus and outlet for rooting and chewing, with a resulting reduction in such activities directed at pen-mates.
Fraser, D., Phillips, P. A., Thompson, B. K., & Tennessen, T. (1991). Effect of straw on the behaviour of growing pigs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 30(3-4), 307-318.
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