Animal Science

Research Article

The influence of feeder type and the method of group allocation at weaning on voluntary food intake and growth in piglets

J. R. Pluskea1 p1 and I. H. Williamsa1

a1 Animal Science, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Western Australia, Nedlands, WA 6907, Australia

Two hundred and ten piglets weaned at 30 days of age and weighing 9 kg were allocated to a 3 × 2 factorial arrangement of treatments to examine the influence of feeder type ('wet and dry' single-space feeder (SSF), 'dry' SSF, or multi-space feeder) and method of group allocation (piglets from different litters were mixed together, or piglets were weaned with their littermates) on performance after weaning. The use of a 'wet and dry' SSF did not enhance growth rate or voluntary food intake (P > 0-05) in the 28 days after weaning. Piglets feeding from 'wet and dry' SSF grew proportionately 0-06 slower in the 28 days following weaning as a result of a 0-45 proportional decrease (P = 0.013) in growth in the 1st week. Piglets mixed together from different litters at weaning grew proportionately 0.34 faster (P = 0.010) in the first 14 days after weaning than piglets weaned as littermates. This initial difference resulted in a 0-14 proportional increase in growth rate from day 1 to 28 (385 v. 339 glday, P < 0.001). Piglets from different litters mixed at weaning consumed proportionately from 0.06 to 0.16 more food (P = 0.096) than piglets weaned as entire litters. No interactions between feeder design and the method of group allocation at weaning occurred for any of the production parameters measured. Single-space feeders failed to increase the production of weaner piglets, whilst mixing non-littermate piglets into a new social group seemingly enhanced performance from weaning to 56 days of age.

(Received February 06 1995)

(Accepted August 16 1995)


  • feed dispensers;
  • food intake;
  • group housing;
  • piglets;
  • weaning


p1 Present address: School of Veterinary Studies, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia