Playful pigs: Evidence of consistency and change in play depending on litter and developmental stage
The study of individual differences has been a powerful approach to understanding animal behaviour. Previous work had shown that most of the variability in play behaviour in piglets before weaning originates between litters rather than between individuals within a litter. This paper describes a follow up study where researchers including Dr Sarah Brown and Prof. Alistair Lawrence (SRUC) looked for evidence that these pre-weaning litter differences in play persisted beyond weaning. They found litter differences in play before and after weaning but only social play showed consistency over the 2 time periods. They found evidence with locomotory play that litters differed significantly in their response to weaning, suggesting a common factor affecting the locomotory play of litters. The most likely explanation was that the litter weaning effect in locomotory play reflected the extent that litters were affected by weaning. The results do therefore provide further evidence for the use of locomotory play in piglets as a sensitive indicator of their welfare.
Brown, S.M., Peters, R., Nevison, I.M. and Lawrence, A.B. (2017) Playful pigs: Evidence of consistency and change in play depending on litter and developmental stage. App. Anim. Beh. Sci., 198, p 36-43.