Effect of a high-fibre diet on the feeding behaviour of fattening pigs
The natural behavioural repertoire of the pig includes extensive foraging behaviour and long feeding times. Customary feed for growing pigs does not meet these requirements, resulting in unsatisfied feeding motivation. This may lead to behavioural disorders and reduces animal welfare. Studies on sows showed that by enhancing crude fibre content in the feed, satiety can be improved and the feeding motivation reduced. In growing pigs, however, studies are lacking, although abnormal behaviours are widespread. Therefore, we investigated the feeding behaviour of 56 castrated male pigs, who received either a standard compound feed or a high fibre feed containing lignocellulosis. High fibre pigs feed less often but longer times than control pigs. The feeding rate of high fibre pigs is clearly reduced, resulting in lower feed intake. Due to the composition of the fibrous feed, energy intake is less and crude fibre intake higher in high fibre pigs. Those animals have lower daily weight gain than control pigs, the feed conversion, however, does not differ between diets. Our results indicate that fibrous feed increases satiety in growing pigs. Sufficient satiety reduces foraging and feeding motivation and related behavioural problems. High fibre feed is therefore suitable to improve the welfare of fattening pigs.