Funders and dates: RESAS RD 2.2.8., UFAW Animal Welfare Student Scholarship (July-Sept 2017)
Collaborators/partners: SRUC, Plymouth University 

Abstract/brief outline

Dry sows with straw bedding. Pregnant (dry) sows are restricted-fed, so are hungry and usually eat some of their straw bedding. It may satisfy their need to root and chew, but not their hunger.


Pregnant sows are fed a restricted amount, whilst EU Council Directive 2008/120/EC and UK codes of practice (Defra 2003) require the use of feeding systems to ensure that sows get sufficient food and are “given a sufficient quantity of bulky  or high-fibre food as well as high-energy food”. Consultation with commercial feed companies suggests that typical sow diets are relatively low in fibre, assuming that straw bedding constitutes an additional source of fibre. Novel co-product feed ingredients may represent an opportunity for adding fibre to sow diets.  This project will begin by reviewing the variety of pig industry responses to the requirement for fibre, the diverse systems for defining and describing dietary fibre types, and consider the wider practical issues affecting the use of high fibre diets. Welfare measures of hunger such as abnormal oral behaviour in dry sows will be identified by observational studies in different systems. Recent research at the Rowett Institute in Aberdeen using rats has shown that dietary fibre is ‘filling’. It increases gut hormones which signal ‘fullness’ leading to reduced energy intake, body weight and obesity. Different types and quantity of dietary fibre will be fed to rats to investigate hunger and feed intake and quantify the physiological processes (in the brain and gut) underlying hunger/satiety which will inform experiments in sows. Specific systems and diets will be experimentally tested in terms of their welfare impact in sows (i.e. their effectiveness at reducing behavioural signs of hunger such as abnormal behaviour) and in terms of their impact on sow (and piglet) performance and production. The work will build on existing expertise in behaviour and welfare, nutrition and physiology relevant to hunger/satiety, and complementing previous Scottish Government (RESAS) funded and ongoing related projects funded by BBSRC and EU.



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