Effect of social group size and initial live weight on feeder space requirement of growing pigs given food ad libitum

S. P. Turner*, M. Dahlgren, D. S. Arey, S. A. Edwards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Feeder space allowance should be sufficient to ensure adequate access to food for all group members, irrespective of competitive ability. However, the influence of social group size on minimum feeder space requirement of pigs given food ad libitum is poorly understood. Performance, aggression and feeding behaviour were assessed over a 6-week period from 29.3 (s.e. 0.19) kg live weight, using four replicates of a 2 X 2 factorial design with two group sizes (20 v. 80) (small and large) and two feeder space allowances (32.5 v. 42.5 mm per pig) (low and high). Food intake was significantly lower in the low feeder space allowance treatments (1.44 v. 1.56 (s.e.d. 0.050) kg per pig per day, P < 0.05) and group mean growth rate was reduced in the later phase between 41 and 56 kg live weight. There was no main effect of group size or interactive effect between group size and feeder space allowance on performance. Mean skin lesion score and the frequency of aggression given or received at the feeders was unaffected by treatment. Heavy weight pigs showed similar feeding behaviour in each treatment, but light pigs visited the feeder more frequently in groups of 20 (23.1 v. 16.0 (s.e.d. 2.04) visits per pig per day, P < 0.05) and spent the greatest time feeding when at a low feeder space allowance (5461 v. 4397 (s.e.d. 288.8) s per pig per day, P < 0.05). To avoid a depression in growth rate, pigs >40 kg should be allocated a minimum feeder space allowance of 42.5 mm per pig. There was little indication of a need to specify differential feeder space allowances according to group size.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPrint publication - Aug 2002

Bibliographical note



  • Aggression
  • Competition
  • Feed troughs
  • Group size
  • Pigs
  • Effect
  • Feeder
  • Food
  • Group
  • Growing
  • Live
  • Live Weight
  • Pig
  • Requirement
  • Size
  • Social
  • Space
  • Weight


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