The ability of pigs to control their protein intake was tested in three different ways. When pigs were offered access to single feeds of different protein contents, at a constant liveweight of 20 kg, they increased their daily feed intake as the protein content of their feed was decreased (long-term protein intake regulation). When the protein content of their feed was altered daily, pigs consumed consistently higher amounts of feed when they had access to a low protein feed rather than to a high protein one (short-term protein intake regulation). When, finally, they were given a choice between two feeds of different protein contents, pigs selected a diet that met their protein requirements (as judged by their growth rates and feed efficiencies) and avoided excess of protein intake, but only if they had had previous experience of both feeds. It is suggested that pigs first need to learn about the feeds that are subsequently offered as a choice, before they can make correct dietary choices.
- Learned appetite